Les Semaines

November 26, 2006

what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: old journal


Comfort Reading

When I was a graduate student, one of the faculty asked me what I enjoyed reading. I said poetry first, then plays, then novels. This was a bit untrue in that I've never read that many plays but as far as what I experienced while reading them, this was true. She said it was the exact opposite order for her. I was a little surprised. [Just as a point of interest, this is the same faculty member who told Jim he was too young to be so cranky, but that's a different story.]

I still love reading poetry, but it has been years since I've read much drama at all. While I was exploring the world of literature, I loved difficult novels--fiction that made me think. I like films to be same. If something didn't send me into a tailspin of thought, I didn't value it at all. I saw no value in mere entertainment; in fact, it rather disgusted me. I recall one of my greatest disappointments was going to the movie theatre in Missoula on a very hot summer day, looking for air-conditioned escape and the only movie in one of the air-conditioned theatres that we thought we might be able to stand was Gremlins. Not only did we hate the movie, but the air-conditioning wasn't working. I think I'm still annoyed. But the point is that I couldn't just let go and enjoy the movie; I hate to, on pricipal, actively hate it. It was lot of work to be such a snob.

But secretly, during Graduate School, while focusing on poetry, which was after all what my program was about (I was doing a writing MFA in poetry) I rediscovered fantastic fiction. I'd always loved it. I don't remember much of my childhood reading, but I do remember that I loved the Oz books and the fairy tale volume of my mother's Bookhouse Books. In Grade Seven we had a reader that included a couple of Ray Bradbury stories, and that opened my head to the world of science fiction for a few years and I joined the Science Fiction Book Club and such. Then I got literary, and started avoiding that genre stuff. There was even a Science Fiction as Literature class at Grad School that funnily enough Jim took but I didn't, though I had taken a fantastic literature class as an undergrad.

Gradually, as tie has gone on, I've become a less omnivorous reader of poetry. I have less patience for poetry I can't learn anything from, or that doesn't move me. I can't be bothered to read poetry just because it's in front of me. I don't read nearly as much as I used to, and I tend to go back to old favourites that can still raise the hair on the back of my neck.

And fiction? Well, now fantasy is by far my favourite. I don't like mindless entertainments, but a good entertainment like the Harry Potter books? I've learned to enjoy them. While I still can delight in a difficult book, I love young adult fiction more and more.

Now I read more novels than anything. Some poetry. And I hardly ever read drama at all. I read (and write) novels that I would have sneered at (but secretly loved) twenty years ago. I wasn't that dumb--it was then I discovered Robin McKinley and Diana Wynn Jones, two authors that remain my favourites today, but I know longer look for the literary darlings, the scary postmodern books of my past, that frankly now I find simply boring.

I think it's that now I'm old enough not to care about how what I'm reading looks like. And also, I know how bleak the world is. I don't need to read babout it to have it rubbed into my skin. And frankly, cynicism, being more-clever-than-thou, hipper-than-you and the black/white world of youthful smartitude? Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh.

— — —

In other news, we had a great Thanksgiving. Our friend John visited from Victoria. Thursday night Tamar and Devin and her friend Jeff all brought food. (cornbread stuffing, butternut squash, green beans, cranberry sauce) John made the gravy, Jim made sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie, I made the turkey and we all feasted. It was fun.

Also, Turkey Day means it's a month till Christmas. Argh! which means, if you're not already on our holiday letter list, please email me if your address and I'll send it to you. That means you get to read the glosa I was talking about last week

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


Hmm. The stereo has been on. What's been on it?

last week's listening § next week's listening


Susanna Clarke's beautifully designed collection of short stories, The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other stories is charming. I love her dispassionate, almost nonfictional way of telling these stories.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Fit bits and pieces of writing around Turkey Day and John's visit. Two hours Friday an Sunday in phone contact at the beginning and end with Karen. Saturday at Karen's house, beseiged by her new kittens. Progress was made, but frankly I'd rather play with kittens.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: old journal

Still no love.

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1941 people have wandered through this week with me