In the High Peaks

Sunday, August 22, 2010

More & More Rain Leads to More & More Books

The rain started just after midnight and has fallen steadily, at times heavily, ever since. We've had about four inches so far, perhaps more. I have not ventured far from the house. This is the first substantial rain we have had in months and months. Not since winter have we had such a sizable amount of precipitation, and do we ever need it!

This morning I read War by the esteemed New York Times journalist Sebastian Junger, author of one of the best-selling books of the past 15 years, The Perfect Storm. War is the result of Junger's year in Afghanistan, as an "embedded journalist" following a U.S. Army platoon holding a remote outpost in the incredibly mountainous region of Afghanistan that borders Pakistan. If there's a place more hellish than any post in the Vietnam War, the Korengal Valley is it.

I spent several hours digesting about 45 pages, and I think I'm done with the book now. I get it. The U.S. and all the other countries involved in fighting the Afghan insurgents are deluded if they think they can win in this unparalleled, impossible topography against a people that were born and brought up in its midst! But, actually, the book is really the story of one platoon of soldiers fighting in that region.

Onward! I finally got a hold of All Souls by Christine Schutt, as I mentioned I intended to do in a previous post. I'm halfway through now, and although I was ready to chuck it out after 50 pages, I'm glad now that I didn't.

Schutt is telling the story of the senior year of a group of girls at an elite private school in New York City, especially as that year relates to the tragic illness of one of the students. The structure of the novel is unique, in my experience, framed in short, vivid vignettes following one upon the next, all from different viewpoints. Confused and crazed it made me for the first 50 pages, but now I'm hanging on and I'm going to pull on to the end. I guess I've decided it's worth it. Isn't it funny how these decisions about the reading of books are made!

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