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Sunday Salon: Unfocused

The Sunday Salon.com Because of my internet outage over the last week, I spent a good chunk of Saturday and Sunday catching up on my blogroll.  This was an enormous task, but I’m happy I did it because I found a whole host of new books to add to my potential reading pile.

Today though, I have been entirely unfocused in my reading; it’s one of those days where I just can’t seem to commit to any of the books I have lying around, so I flit between them at my mood changes.  While normally I think this would be a bad plan, the books I’m reading seem to format themselves to flitting.

One is Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a collection of essays by Joan Didion. This is for my class on literary journalism, and so far I like it a lot. Didion has a very quiet, but also very analytical and critical writing style as she takes on culture in California in the 1960s. My professor described Didion’s style as “I’m so much cooler than you, and here is why…” I’m not sure if I buy that exactly, but you can certainly tell what Didion thinks of the people she is writing about–it’s not always flattering. I had just gotten to the title essay of the collection when I decided to take a break and blog for a bit.
Another book I’m perusing today is Not Quite What I Was Planning, which is a collection of six-word memoirs from SMITH Magazine. I’ll explain the concept more when I get around to reviewing the book, but for now you can read more about it at the official site, here. I like this book because it’s easy to read in pieces and because the editors intermixed memoirs by famous authors with those my average people. As I read I constantly get surprised when I come across an entry by someone I know like Joyce Carol Oates or Dave Eggers. I’m excited to review this book when I’m done.
I want to read some more of Villette by Charlotte Bronte (one of my Fall Into Reading 2008 books), but I’m not sure if I will get to it without feeling guilty for ignoring other work. I started Villette last night and I’m glad I did!  The narrator, Lucy Snowe, is such a funny and intrepid character.  I love that she is flawed, but her flaws don’t make you dislike her in any way.  Instead, I feel like they make me appreciate her more.  And the plot so far seems remarkably relevant to me–I’m not alone in the world, traveling without money, or desperate for work, but I relate to her pluckiness and “go take on the world” attitude.

Another highlight of my reading week was a post at Communist Dance Party (a local Madison blog) called A Ziploc Bag Full of Chocolate Chip Cookies. This made me laugh out loud and also had a nice take-home message:

Don’t be embarrassed of what makes you happy. Even if it’s just a Ziploc bag full of chocolate chip cookies, dig your fat ass in and enjoy the moment. It doesn’t matter what you look like, it doesn’t matter how much money you make and it doesn’t matter what you thought this life was going to bring you, rest assured that this is all we have, and waiting for any other joy to arrive will be considered a waste when the last page is turned, I promise.

Happiness is a cookie. Happiness is getting five green lights in a row on your way to work. Take the time to admire the sadness in the realization that it’s the honest truth, then allow yourself to enjoy it with every fiber of your being.

Let the crumbs fall down your shirt; you deserve it.

Anyway, back to reading and perhaps writing and revising some of the news articles I have due this week.  We’ll see, with my lack of focusing trying to write might be a losing effort.  Oh well, happy Sunday!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Memory October 12, 2008, 6:24 pm

    The narrator, Lucy Snowe, is such a funny and intrepid character. I love that she is flawed, but her flaws don’t make you dislike her in any way. Instead, I feel like they make me appreciate her more.

    This really makes me want to read the book! I love narrators like this. I think it makes for a much more interesting book.

  • Karen H. October 12, 2008, 6:28 pm

    Nice collection of reads there! Good luck juggling your work today. I can relate. 🙂

  • Clare D October 12, 2008, 7:11 pm

    Just what I was going to say, ‘Memory’! Strange, I was going to pick out exactly the same words!

    I like that picture on the front of your Vilette – she looks so peaceful.

    I also like the sentiment of the cookie post. I’ve been doing a fair bit of digging in today.

  • theexile October 12, 2008, 11:19 pm

    I think Didion’s style is caught somewhere between detached and very involved. If that’s possible. And the best book of hers I’ve read is The Year of Magical Thinking, a wonderful exploration of grief.

  • Kim October 13, 2008, 2:49 am

    Memory: Yes, I agree. Lucy’s biggest flaw, so far, seems to be a raging lack of self-confidence, and it’s nice to see when she can overcome it.

    Karen H: Thanks!

    Clare D: You know, she does, I never really noticed that before. I got this copy at a used book store when I was in London. I love the cookies 🙂

    theexile: That’s a good way to describe her, I think. She is very objective, but occasionally inserts herself into her narrative, and you know she is sitting behind her descriptions commenting on what she is seeing. I haven’t read The Year of Magical Thinking, but now I really want to.