Sunday, January 19, 2014

Welcome to the second half of January

I'm looking forward to February.

A couple days ago, I actually finished Focault's Pendulum (Umberto Eco), and consider it an accomplishment. It's probably the most difficult novel I've ever managed to finish. A bunch of years ago, I read the unabridged version of Les Miserables, in which Victor Hugo would periodically abandon his riveting storyline to go off on some tangent, the most memorable one about the Paris sewer system. Well, guess what? Those underground passageways figure in this tome, too.  The good news is that this time, I did not endure one hundred pages on their history, since this novel concerns itself with the history, speculations, and conspiracy theories surrounding the Templar Knights.

I do hope that we actually discuss this novel a bit in the reading group, even though I know a few of us will have given up on it. Life is short. Honestly, though, I'd like to hear others' speculations concerning what we are to believe about the events at the end of the novel. It's hard to really know, since the main characters have all lost touch with reality. I declared Casaubon Officially Insane on page 451, and while fellow editor Belbo had issues all along, he is obviously mad by page 531. This is just my opinion. During this time, the third editor, Diotellevi, dies of cancer, convinced that the cells in his body are reacting to the poisonous work they are doing.

But I do now know that a bombardon is a large brass instrument, much like a tuba. Even if spell check doesn't like it, it does exist. For awhile, during the middle stages of my latest reading venture, I entertained the possibility of picking out a readable history of the Templar Knights, but alas, I no longer have that fever. I confess, I'm tired of them and do not have the brain to contemplate some of these esoteric subjects.

I've also seen a couple of  movies lately, most notably American Hustle, which is very loosely based on a scandal I only vaguely remember. Every single cast member plays his or her part to perfection, and I actually cared about what happened to them.

In Netflix news, we've seen The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which boils down to a 9/11 story, starring a very innocent, America-loving young Pakistani man named Changez (hard g). It's based on the novel by Mohsin Hamid, and at some point, I will read it.  We've also seen 42, a biopic of Jackie Robinson. It's a pretty good movie, and I liked Chadwick Boseman in his lead role. The film focuses on baseball, and does not tell us much more about Jackie Robinson, but the film does clearly communicate how hard and scary it was to be Jackie Robinson. And yes, that's two films about American prejudice and injustice in a row. Oh, wait, I'm wrong! We saw The Bling Ring between these two. It was entertaining, but obviously, it pales in comparison.

Enough about movies, I am back to my reading list, and I've started with the shortest one, a novella by one of my favorite authors....Nate in Venice.

Richard Russo's novella about a just-retired English professor is an engaging page-turner. The simple title had me expecting a coming-of-age story, which I suppose it is, but not the kind I was expecting. Nate is sixty, not twenty, but in some important ways, he still needs to find his way. It feels good to read a story promoting the idea that it's never too late.  

Nate in Venice is a very short piece of fiction, so I hate to say too much, except that the narrative ended before I was ready. That's okay, though, I can let it go--always good advice. This was a good read for me right now, because I've had a case of the blues. It's probably a January thing.

After all, it's not like anything is wrong with me. I'm healthy.  I did not make any resolutions, but the one thing I should do is make myself run more often. I've slacked off so badly that that could very well be my blues problem. That's a vicious cycle, that not wanting to get up and then the moody result of not getting up. And I have no excuse--if I can't face the treadmill in this cold weather, I have the clothing for this cold weather. Been collecting clothes for years, and this year, Mike's parents got me a nifty new warm shirt for Christmas--it's a thumb hole shirt:

(This is a random, googled picture) See what a great little idea this is? It's an extra layer for the back of your hands, plus it keeps your shirt tucked into your mittens! The shirt is form-fitting, so your watch can be worn with no bunching. I'm spoiled now, and may have to perform surgery on a couple older shirts. So. I shall get out there most mornings, and do whatever I have time to do. There is no cone on my head, no injuries to report, not even a head cold right now.

The new year would start on a happier note for me, if it weren't always so cold. But that's just me.

How are YOU bearing up?


TLP said...

As you know, I loved American Hustle, since I saw it with you. Everyone I talk to is sick of this particular winter. And tomorrow, we have 100% chance of snow. Yikes! It's all the messy wet stuff that's bothering us, but also the grey, grey days.

I love your new shirt! Bob and Sharon always give you the best stuff.

Jocelyn said...

I love my thumb shirts...except my thumbs get cold in them, so then I have to tuck them in with the rest of my fingers. Dang.

Great reviews--and I haven't read that Russo, so it's going on my list. Love his work.

Anonymous said...

i salute you on finishing foucault's pendulum - that IS an accomplishment - dare i say it, the 'everest of reading'.

i am reading scott turrow's 'ordinary heroes' at the moment, and i am loving it.

Karen said...

I used to read a lot more books and magazines than I do now... I think I may be addicted to the World Wide Web.

Although that Belbo was obviously mad by page 531 is pretty exciting!