Thursday, March 13, 2003

I'm feeling better about the towering stack on my nightstand after reading in Realms of Fantasy that Robin McKinley is currently working on "about eight feet of books". Actually, I spent my last few days off reducing my stack to a modest two or three (Independent People, is, I'm sorry to say, going back to the shelf unfinished, and I'm trying to decide about Blackberry Winter), although I'm not sure how virtuous that is since I also hit two different library book sales recently and have started new stacks on the floor. I was so happy when we finally acquired some two-by-fours and cinder blocks so that all our books could be respectably displayed away from the voracious nibbling of my pet rabbit. It couldn't last long, especially in the event of book sales.

I've been trying to finish library books (there is, of course, always an urgency about these, since they must someday return to their rightful home), so I haven't read too many of my book sale finds, but so far my favorite is the Common Reader regular The Hills Is Lonely by Lillian Beckwith. However, it defies description, so I can't say much about it except that the tale of an English writer seeking a rest cure in the Hebrides in the 1950's is delightful and highly amusing.

Today I started in on Barbara Holland's In Private Life, which is unfortunately a little too desperate to be funny. Her musings about her life as a housewife are very realistic, but she seems unable to make the choice to change her mood, or to try to be anything but wild-eyed, harried, and severely depressed. I did enjoy the list of sentences to which a mother's daily conversation is limited ("Go back and wash them again", "Brush your teeth", "Where does it hurt?", "I said no", etc.), but the opening description of scanning pantry shelves every evening in a desperate search for something to put in a casserole was too much. True, doubtless, but overwhelming in unadulterated form. Her wilfully helpless point of view reminds me unpleasantly of the things I didn't like about Anne Lamott, especially in Operating Instructions. I suppose I shouldn't speak too strongly, since as yet I have not been a wife and mother, but in general one's mood and point of view are dependent on will--in other words, you can change the way you look at and feel about things.

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