Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The livin' is easy

Good golly, Miss Molly, it's been a while since I posted. That's what happens when summer comes: the mind and body slow to appreciate the length of days, the stillness of the heat.

Summer is also a time of reading, and I have been gnawing my way through that big stack of books by my bed: Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me, Shaun Tan's The Arrival, Arthur Slade's The Hunchback Chronicles, Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief, R. L. LaFevers' Theodosia novels, Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small Quartet, and Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light. There hasn't been a dud in the pack. My daughter is currently, lovingly lost in Ann Martin's Doll People books, but our reading was slow going for a bit because she was spending most evenings at her dad's production of Macbeth in Odell Park. Last night, she loudly proclaimed: "A drum. A drum. Macbeth dot com." When you're 5, comprehension of Shakespeare can be a tad limited.

I haven't much to say other than to let you all know that I am still here and to show you through two short quotations from Jennifer Donnelly's A Northern Light that great writing is great writing no matter what audience it's aimed at.

First off a simple metaphor used to describe the shy, reserved sister, Abby:

"Our Abby is a sprigged dress that's been washed and turned wrong side out to dry, with all its color hidden."

And this, on the single mother of seven in the plank house up the road:

"Emmie Hubbard certainly was crazy, and I was pretty sure the county would take her one day. They'd almost done so on one or two occasions. But I couldn't say that to Tommy. He was only twelve years old. As I tried to figure out what I could say--to find words that weren't a lie but weren't quite the truth either--I thought that madness isn't like they tell it in books. It isn't Miss Havisham sitting in the ruins of her mansion, all vicious and majestic. And it isn't like in Jane Eyre either, with Rochester's wife banging around in the attic, shrieking and carrying on and frightening the help. When your mind goes, it's not castles and cobwebs and silver candelabra. It's dirty sheets and sour milk and dog shit on the floor. It's Emmie cowering under her bed, crying and singing while her kids try to make soup from seed potatoes."

Or as Lady Macbeth puts it, "hell is murky."


So you tell me, how is your summer? More to the point, what are you reading? And whatever it is, does it have passages that make you stop to reread because you simply cannot help yourself?