Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Inappropriate Grief

After all my complaining about novels, I went to the bookstore to look for something good to read while Robert is hospitalized as my MFA program is in hiatus, except for residency preparation, and I just don't think I can get into "Song of Myself" while my kid is lying there after having had his little skeleton reconfigured. Whitman is great, but there are limits to my ability to dissociate.

I found two novels, one of which I really, really like: Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Both a good story and incredibly interesting prose texture. And both postmodern in its general outlook, yet emotional and sentimental at its core. Of course, I read it in less than three days. This, I remember, is the problem with finding a novel I'm actually interested in--I can't put it down--I mean, really, I can't put it down. I am compelled to read the whole thing almost without stopping, setting aside everything that is not extremely urgent or functionally necessary in my life. Maybe that's why I dislike novels so much: they completely disrupt my life.

Foer's book reminds me of Dave Egger's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Both books deal with pain, suffering, and grief the way I have experienced them--with, yes, emotion, but with a dark and savage wit, with an inappropriateness, with a sense that the world really is off-kilter all the time: we just don't know it until normalcy dissolves around us.

The other book I picked up was Plainsong by somebody or other who won some big literary prize. It looks interesting--although it could be sappy, and might be a little Ted Kooser-ish as it takes place in the Midwest.

Nervous about the surgery. Will try to post as the process moves along.

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