I've read two books in the last week. Pleasure reading, even. Granted, they were quite short, but they were books, and I read two of them.
I bought both of them years ago at a local bookstore in my hometown called the BookStop which was run by mothers of girls I went to school with. It was charming and friendly and sometimes Gator and I would just go in and read the backs of books we wouldn't ordinarily read then buy a bunch of them. Many I've not yet read. But I brought a few up here with me and I finally pulled a couple off the shelf. Both enthralled me but both, ultimately, left me completely unsatisfied. I suspect "literary types" would say that this is because I'm unsophisticated and want everything laid out for me. Well, not exactly, thankyouverymuch, but it's true that I don't read Finnegan's Wake
for a reason
. I want to read a story. Stories, according to Mrs. Espey, require a beginning, a middle, and an end (climax, deneoument, etc. etc. yes, I know, it's still a beginning, a middle, and and end). If you refuse to end your story
, don't get pissed at me because I find this annoying. You're not cool and edgy, you're falling asleep on the job.
The first book I read this week was Who Will Run The Frog Hospital?
by Lorrie Moore. Funny, in just looking up the Amazon entry to make that link, I noticed that the reviews were either five or one stars. Strong feelings. I agree. It is both good and awful. A book that I refer to as "all middle". The beginning is awkward, as if you're already supposed to know something you don't. The main story is a flashback. The middle (of the "middle") eventually draws you in and you start to really care what's happening to these girls, teenagers in a small town with lives that are unappealing and so they try to create something more fun, something finer, that they share only with each other. This part was well written and enthralling. But reality eventually intervenes and life marches on leaving their constructed "lives" behind. The present is briefly described and a future hinted at. And then it ends. Infuriatingly.
The thing that is most troubling is that this is the story of a woman, unsatisfied with her life, who reminisces about her teenage life with her best friend and laments the loss of the girl she was then. Or, more precisely, the loss of the girl she wasn't
then, as she mostly wanted to be
her best friend back then. She finds that she's become jaded, cynical, not-so-nice. But I don't know why
. Am I supposed to say, "Oh, well, yeah. We all get jaded and cynical. That's just life and growing up"? Well, it's not
. I'm unsatisfied. Harumph.
The second book I read in one evening. It was Zombie
by Joyce Carol Oates. I'd never read any of her stuff before, but I knew she was a pretty popular author and fairly well received critically. It seemed interesting when I bought it, so I went ahead and jumped in. AND WAS IMMEDIATELY, IRREVERSIBLY SUCKED IN. Wow. Cool book. Slice of life of a sexual psychopath told from his effed-up point of view. But. So
"slice of life" that again with the no ending. Man. I understand what she was trying to do, what she was going for (more so than Ms. Moore, anyway), but I read the last page and actually threw the book across the room. Sucker-punched. Killer.
I know there are different kinds of reading. What I want right now is pure escapist reading -- the pure bliss of reading something that WILL NOT have the words immunofluorescence
in it ANYWHERE. But I can't stand formulaic stories or your typical romance novel or fantasy one-off. So I look for something quirky because, let's face it, I'm quirky. But quirkiness often comes with the "meaningful stylistic contructions" that just piss me off
. So, once again, I may be too weird for the world. I'm pretty used to it, really I am.
But thanks for letting me vent about it, anyway. :)
Now, in hot "Hows about some nice groundhog stew?" news: It's April 11, and we're going to get six inches of snow today, with three more likely tonight. Oh, and 40 mph winds. This
is why we need so much beer up in here. Seriously.
Maybe all this is just how I make the lab look like a pretty warm, fuzzy place.