Reading two books back to back.
“. . . because stories are how we shape our lives, and stories make pain tolerable by acknowledging it as part of a meaningful journey.”
–Beth Ann Fennelly, Great with Child, p. 202
“Because my life had no shape, I was willing to accept whatever happened.”
–Ann Patchett, Truth & Beauty, p. 6
I ate lunch at my kitchen table today like a respectable person (instead of on a couch/futon/in bed/at my desk), but I couldn’t handle staring at nothing, so I got out my laptop and took the opportunity to Google “Murakami 1Q84.” I am currently reading the novel, I’m on Book 2, and I am absolutely thrilled by it. I won’t stop talking about it to my husband, I won’t stop copying down passages and writing little love notes to it in my notebook, and most/best of all, I can’t stop reading it. I was thinking, How wonderful it would be to read some insightful interviews or shining reviews about the book, and there was never a more appropriate moment than while eating my Red Pepper Tomato Bisque.
So imagine my dismay (and utter shock) when every review I clicked on today was negative! Granted, I didn’t read them too closely — I’m trying not to stumble on any spoilers when I still have 500 pages still to go — and from what I could tell by skimming, it looks like the end is what’s causing most of the complaints, so maybe my mind will be changed by the end, but still, I can’t believe it! This is so far one of my favourite books in a very long time. And it came highly recommended to me by a friend. Not to mention, a random guy in a coffee shop last week saw it on my table and told me it was amazing.
So what’s the deal with all the negativity in the official literary forums? I guess I’ll have to first finish the book, then, once the danger of spoilers is past, read all the reviews carefully, then reassess.
And with 500 pages left to go, that will take a little while.
For now I can only shake my head and flare my nostrils a little in the solitude of my kitchen.
(This post was poorly supported, linked, and researched, but my soup is gone and I want to get back to the book. I don’t want to link to or summarize any reviews until I have a chance to read them more carefully.)
I’ve been reading several interviews with Sheila Heti today, about her new book: How Should A Person Be?: A Novel From Life. Can’t wait to read this one. She has a lot of really interesting things to say about representing reality, and the relationship of fiction to reality. These are topics I’ve been thinking a lot about as I’ve been working on a project of my own, so I found the interviews particularly engaging. Here are the excerpts that I’ve copied onto index cards and will be pinning to my bulletin board:
“Every generation wants to — is trying to represent reality. All artists are trying to represent reality, us no more than at any other time. It’s just like, what tools do you use? And you do sort of open up the idea of the novel. Why are you writing the novel this way?…” (Sheila Heti in “Reality Fiction” by Emily Keeler in The New Inquiry, May 28, 2012, www.thenewinquiry.com/essays/reality-fiction.)
“…even if I did try 100 percent to depict them as they are, still a person’s such a different thing from words in a book. You can’t really ever think that’s a person.” (Sheila Heti in “Reality Fiction” by Emily Keeler in The New Inquiry, May 28, 2012, www.thenewinquiry.com/essays/reality-fiction.)
Links to all the interviews I read today:
By Emily Keeler on The New Inquiry: www.thenewinquiry.com/essays/reality-fiction
By Claire Cameron on The Millions: http://www.themillions.com/2012/06/how-should-a-writer-be-an-interview-with-sheila-heti.html
Cameron digs into the details of Heti’s revision of the book for the American release. I’m always interested in differences between Canadian and American things. I’d be curious to read both versions.
By Brian Joseph Davis on The Joyland Blog:http://www.joylandmagazine.com/brian_joseph_davis/blog/heti
I have a copy of Heti’s The Middle Stories, which I now feel compelled to revisit until I can get my hands on a copy of How Should A Person Be? (Thank goodness it’s one of the books that made the cut and lives with me now in San Diego).
As a post-script, I see here on Jezebel (http://jezebel.com/5919618/sheila-hetis-how-should-a-person-be-is-blowing-up) that there’s way more media attention out there about the book than I realized…so I will end this post now to pursue further reading.