In the High Peaks

Friday, March 26, 2010

Reading In Between Seasons

Neither winter nor spring are here. Snowshoeing and skiing are over, but hiking and paddling are weeks away. Mud season is an apt descriptor, especially after a rain, but today was sunny and wintry cold, just the way Sophie (my golden retriever) and I like it. Road walking is the only viable outdoor activity, and so we did that, past the beaver pond, past the Kibby Creek waterfall, to the freshwater marshes overlooking Eleventh Mountain.

Reading, and thinking about reading, has taken center stage. After two weeks working on taxes and finances, I crave immersion in foreign worlds. And this afternoon I've given myself permission to do nothing but explore literature.

I just found out that I have access to The New Yorker full text, via the library's Academic Premier database. The issue that hit the stands Monday is not available, but I'll be able to read it this coming Monday, the 29th. A month ago, I subscribed to it via the Kindle, but that costs $2.99/month. Reading the magazine on the laptop is just as convenient for me and costs nothing.

Books: As noted, I thoroughly enjoyed A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill (1993). I was hoping, because of its title, that Hamill would examine and analyze his relationship with alcohol and its impact on his life. He mentions the drinking and its effects, the phrase "got drunk" is on nearly every page, but, with the exception of his father's drinking, he never allows himself to stare at his own reflection in the glass. When he decides to quit, he goes cold turkey, and despite decades of hard drinking, suffers little or no withdrawal. He never goes to AA, and he never says why, but I wonder if it's because when he quit, he didn't want to analyze, he wanted only to be done with it.

So why did I enjoy A Drinking Life? It may not be a recovery memoir, but it is a fascinating, intricately detailed story of an Irish boyhood and young adulthood in Brooklyn from World War II through the 1960s.

I've a list of titles to seek out at Crandall Library on Saturday or Sunday, whichever day I decide to drive the 36 miles it takes to get there. Crandall is way to the south, in the "city" of Glens Falls, and is an excellent library, more than I hoped for when I moved north.

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