Sunday, October 01, 2006

Reading update

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. Not at the moment actually, but when I look forward to the next month, I'm overwhelmed; when I look forward to Monday, I'm overwhelmed. And that means the familiar feeling that there's so much I'd like to read right now that I just can't is worse than usual. I won't post another picture of my TBR shelves (yet), but they are getting worse. I keep mooching books at Book Mooch even though I have no idea when I'll read them. I've got The Time Traveler's Wife on the way, and Vivian Gornick's The Situation and the Story, a book litlove wrote on a while back. The latest to arrive is Mary Gaitskill's novel Veronica, and I've requested Geraldine Brooks's novel Year of Wonders and Moments of Being, a collection of autobiographical writings by Virginia Woolf. This last one is coming from Diana -- thank you!

This last book reminds me of this cool new reading group I can't join: Woolf for Dummies. They are reading The Voyage Out and Lyndall Gordan's biography at the moment. I'd love to read both, but I just can't add another reading group right now. Sigh. I'm also jealous of another group, Our Coffee Rings, which is reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women right now. What a marvelous book! I'd love to re-read it.

And bloggers have been writing about so many great books I want to read immediately. Sandra has reminded me how much I want to read Anita Brookner, and Danielle's post on Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, as well as the posts of many other bloggers on that novella, has made me want to re-read that book. I've been saying that in the comments section in many, many blogs, I believe. And Danielle and others have raved about Lewis Buzbee's The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, which I need to get my hands on. And Jenny had a post up awhile ago about Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love that convinced me I need to read it.

I'm enjoying my current books very much, but that doesn't stop me from looking ahead and hoping to be able to pick up new books soon. It's nice having my unread books on shelves up in my study across the room from my reading chair, so I can see them easily, but having them right there makes me want to pick them up immediately.

Let me leave you with a footnote, this one from The Mezzanine. The narrator contemplates a sandwich labeled, "cream cheese and sliced olive," and this is how he footnotes his own contemplations:

I was especially interested that the food service had inserted "sliced" in the title of their sandwich, perhaps on the model of "sliced egg sandwich." You don't have to say "tuna and sliced celery," or even "tuna and celery"; the reason we flag the existence of olives is that while the tuna is tan and crumbly and therefore aggregative, cream cheese is a unitary scrim, and the olives inset into it demand an equal billing. In truth, the question is less subtle than this: olives are a more powerful taste in a bed of cream cheese than celery is within the tangy disorder of tuna: celery is often used simply as an extender, texturing and adding a cheap chew-interest, while olives are more expensive ounce for ounce than cream cheese, and therefore demonstrate higher yearnings, nobler intentions. What can freshen and brighten that blandness? the food scientist asked himself, assigned the task of making a simple cream cheese sandwich appetizing. Mushrooms? Chives? Paprika? And then -- he sliced one olive, worth maybe two cents wholesale, into six pieces, spaced them evenly in their white medium, and suddenly all the squinting, cackling, cocktail-wickedness of a narrow gourmet jar of Spanish olives in the door shelf of your refrigerator inhabited the cheapest, most innocent, most childlike sandwich you can make.