Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Reading Hour(s)

With the semester over (first year of grad school DONE!), I can move into the "traditional" Summer phase of life.

You know, a "vacation/break" phase.

Since my seventeenth year, I have had a full-time job.

Not a summer job, but a every season/month/week of the year, filled with life/death responsibility job.

This summer is a bit different.

I'm still working on the (very academic) Flannery O'Connor Review for the next few weeks, but the hours are flexible. It just HAS to get done. I'm not confined to a singular location for nine hour stretches. I can "move" around and create/schedule as I go.

Basically, I need to take advantage of this time as much as possible.

Last night began the "reading hour." But really HOURS--where I "just" read/completed a "short novel" of my OWN choosing. It wasn't assigned--it was what I wanted to read.

Despite being free from academic parameters, I realize now that I read as a "writer" or as a "professor" (both books by Francine Prose). I can't get away from that part of me now, which is nothing to really complain about (yet).

So I read the "short novel" Rare & Endangered Species by Richard Bausch...which "demonstrates how a wife and mother's suicide reverberates in the small community where she lived, and affects the lives of people who don't even know her."

(so says the blurb on the back of Wives & Lovers, the collection it appears in and which won the PEN/Malamud Award)

So there are people who "don't even know her" in the story (they are closely connected), but the story really focuses on Andrea's two adult children (James and Maizie) shortly after she commits suicide. Because she didn't leave a note, they are both left to wonder WHY and do whatever they can to comfort their grieving father.

It is divided into sections: Single/Patiently/Penance/Desire/Good-Byes/Diurnal and reads as a "classic" American short story. Nothing fancy per se, but the families aren't fancy. They're everyday people dealing with the loss in their own way. Honest.

I calculated that I read at a rate of 56 pages per hour. (Is that fast? Is that slow?) In other words, it took me about 3 hours to finish it. Tonight I am going to tackle another "short" novel or novella, the relatively famous Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote.


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