In the High Peaks

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Reading Claire Messud and Other Books of a Vacation Sunday

As I mentioned, my first day of vacation was probably June 27th. But I didn't feel like I was on vacation until today, Sunday, June 30th.

I read books like crazy today, mostly because I've been feeling unwell and unfit for doing anything more enterprising. I'm glad! I often manage to come down with something right before a school vacation, or at the end of the semester, or a summer session. And here I am, feeling too tired and ill to do much more than read, although that I'm capable of doing enthusiastically!

I'm reading The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud very, very slowly, only because the novel is so deep, so heavily laden with the grist of genuine familial relationships, with real life. I cherish every passage and reread as I go along. I cannot bomb my way through the way I would an "ordinary" novel, whatever that is. Quite the opposite! I heartily recommend! So affecting...  I will have more to say later.
I am so in awe of Messud's literary power. She is truly brilliant, in the way I believe Paul Auster is brilliant. By the way, I did the smart thing, as it turns out, and ordered a hardcover edition of this book. So glad I did because I will enjoy rereading.

I'm also reading Long Distance: A Year of Living Strenuously (2000) by Bill McKibben, the environmental journalist, now famous for his pioneering work with the organization he founded Bill was the first in this country, anyway, to herald the fact that our world will never again be the world we once knew--it is gone forever due to what we have done to it and unremitting climate change, as he discusses in his landmark book The End of Nature (1990). Yet in this title, he is following his desire to become a cross-country ski racing phenom. As a weakling [his description], he had an uphill battle to become the ultimate fitness freak. The book is an incredibly witty memoir, satire, and so laugh-out-loud fun, that I've been enjoying every word.


  1. I'm reading The Woman Upstairs now and feel the same way! Also, Paul Auster is an author I've been meaning to read for ages. Seeing your comparison has me moving him to the top of the list.

    Enjoy your vacation.

  2. JoAnn,
    I'm so glad that you are finding The Woman Upstairs so deeply enthralling.
    I think you will appreciate Paul Auster. I've read so many of his novels and his nonfiction autobiographical writings, I don't even know what to recommend.

    I would suggest reading very basic summaries of his novels to see what "sounds good" to you and start there. I am rarely disappointed, but I am truly an Auster devotee.
    Thank you for posting!