At the moment it seems like I have lots of books on the go and very little time to read them. Or rather, not as much time as I would like to read them. I find myself longing for a vacation escape to someplace where all my needs are catered to and all I have to do is sit and read. Ah, wouldn’t that be nice?
My commute book is Jane Eyre. I haven’t read it since the long ago days of college. I’m up to the night before the wedding. I am really not sure what to make of the book at the moment. The power differential in the relationship between Jane and Mr. Rochester is so skewed and even when Mr. Rochester proposes for Jane to behave as his fiance and not his employee for the month before the wedding, Jane turns him down, continues calling him sir and master. But also in doing this she manages to hold power over Rochester by denying him access to her as his future wife. Each of them is really pleased about their power over the other and relishes in making threats. It is disturbing.
I started reading Mieville’s newest, This Census-Taker, and I am not sure whether I like it. I like Mieville quite a lot. I have read Perdido Street Station and The City and The City. He is so good at world-building and creating a rich and detailed setting but This Census-Taker is scaled back, simplistic in a way. The tone feels flat and Mieville’s love of words that sends me to the dictionary is nowhere to be found. He’s trying out a stylistic thing that is interesting — the story is told (so far) from the perspective of the main character looking back on when he was a boy. He refers to his boyhood self in both first person and third person. And given the fear and violence of his childhood the fear and dissociation is realistic and understandable. But with that being the most interesting thing going on, it is hard to want to keep reading the book. It is a novella, so not so very long, but I can’t decide whether or not to keep going yet.
The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth McKenzie on the other hand, is truly delightful. The story is told in alternating chapters between Veblen and her fiance Paul. Veblen is smart and funny, loves squirrels, loves her house, is not afraid of hard work. She dropped out of college and is perfectly content working as an admin assistant. Her chapters so far focus on her engagement to Paul and her concerns that their relationship is doomed. Even the squirrels seem to be warning her. Paul is a neurologist who just took a job for a big pharmaceutical company to develop a tool and technique he invented for treating traumatic brain injuries in the field. His chapters tend to be career focused and filled with assumptions about what his future with Veblen will be like. It doesn’t take observant squirrels to see that there is trouble ahead for these two.
I am also still reading Jessa Crispin’s The Creative Tarot and enjoying it very much. It is not the kind of book to read cover to cover. But I am moving towards the end and hope to be able to write about it soon.
I started reading The Cabaret of Plants by Richard Mabey again and I like it very much but the reading is going slowly because I have so many other books on the go. I just picked up from the library a graphic novel I have been waiting my turn for for ages, Strong Female Protagonist. That will be something to enjoy on the weekend I think. And I also brought home from the library Dark Money by Jane Mayer. It is about money in American politics, particularly the money of the Koch brothers. Mayer is an award-winning journalist and while she was researching this book she was surveilled and attempts were made to discredit her. Ominous, isn’t it?
Of course I have all sorts of other books on the go. I briefly felt like my piles were getting a little smaller and then they sprang back up again even taller than before. I think I might just give up trying to manage the piles at all, it is a losing battle that only seems to cause me stress and worry. I just have to go with it and not be concerned about it. Things will either work out or they won’t and if they don’t the the worst thing that could happen is I have to return a book to the library before I get a chance to finish it. No, the worst thing would be my reading table collapses. But it hasn’t yet and it isn’t even wobbly. The books piled on it are more likely to fall off than the table is to fall down. So it’s all good!