Dear readers, (and I’m fairly certain there are at least five of you out there, so I feel comfortable addressing you in the plural),
I’m sorry for the delays. The STBR train has been a mess these past few weeks. I don’t know what happened. At first, I figured we were just being held momentarily by the train’s dispatcher. Sometimes this happens: when the trains run especially close together, (read: if I barrel through too many books in a row), a hold-up in the station ahead can cause delays for all the passengers behind.
Such was my predicament: Four books in a row failed to get me out of the station. The doors would close, I would settle in for the ride, and then I’d find myself inexplicably back on the platform, empty handed and still in Brooklyn. I became increasingly frustrated and unwilling to leave the comfort of my quiet apartment. (In my metaphor, ‘apartment’ stands for ’empty head space.’ As in, I’d rather just zone out than focus on a book.) This, and I got an iPhone that is more fun, as it turns out, than reading about the economics of baseball.
When I finally got back on track, (‘The House of the Spirits’ by Isabelle Allende or BUST), the trip was excruciatingly slow. It was almost dangerous, really. The MTA should contact its lawyers- while we were stuck in the tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan (for WEEKS, it seemed) without food or water or bathrooms, more than one passenger was threatening to sue. After eons of fits and starts, I got off at Union Square and headed directly to Barnes and Noble, where I could reward myself for having a finished a book I did not enjoy by spending lots of money I don’t have on books I hopefully WILL enjoy.
(Please note: this writer feels extremely guilty for having disliked a book, especially by such a renowned author as Allende. She had such high hopes after loving ‘Daughter of Fortune,’ but simply did not care for her second foray into Allende’s Chile. But she supposes there will always be some bumps along the way. She is allowed to have opinions, after all, just as the MTA is allowed to make track repairs when necessary, public opinion be damned.)
Anyway, THE POINT IS: We’re back in business. And how! The train is running more efficiently than ever. And I have some summer reading suggestions for you. So grab a beach towel and a sun hat, and head out! The train is waiting to take you to Coney Island, the Hamptons, the Jersey Shore or, heck, c’mon out to my new apartment! (Don’t worry, I’m still living off the same L stop. No change in my commute, thank goodness!) There’s no beach in Bushwick, but there will be a fire escape and copious amounts of fresh mint growing especially for bottomless mojitos.
If you wanna laugh (and if you’re a woman, which, if you are reading this blog, I am fairly certain you are) read Bossypants, by Tina Fey. I saw a girl reading this on the subway with a perfectly stern expression behind her Ray-Bans, and thought that perhaps she didn’t speak English or was, in fact, blind. I literally had to clamp my hand over my mouth to hold in my explosive bursts of laughter. This was the first book I’ve read in a single day since Harry Potter 7, and though everyone has dramatically different tastes, I would recommend Fey’s irreverent, quirky autobiography to anyone who is literate.
If you wanna cry (which you probably don’t want to do at the beach) read What is the What, the true story of Valentino Achak Deng, essentially ghost-written into a novel by Dave Eggers. In an immaculately clear first-person narration, Eggers and Deng blend their voices to bring to life the decades of suffering Deng endured as one of the Lost Boys of Sudan and, later, in his relocation to America. I put off reading this book for almost two years (it was a gift from Christmas ’09) for fear that the horror would overwhelm my sheltered sensibilities. And it did (hence the sobbing on the train during rush hour). But the real kicker is the humanity and compassion of the writers. The story isn’t about what’s awful in the world- it’s about the soul’s ability to endure, and the fundamentally human desire to share our stories in order to make meaning out of our lives. You can save this one for later, but definitely read it eventually.
If you want to have your mind twisted in knots read Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen. It’s beautiful, it’s sad, it’s sometimes about the weather. When Leo ‘discovers’ his beautiful, young Argentinian wife Rema has been replaced with a doppelganger, he goes on an international hunt to track down the real woman (introducing me to lots of new words in the vein of ersatz, simulacrum, etc. in the process.) This book, read on the buses of Minneapolis, pulled at my heartstrings for reasons I can’t quite articulate. Maybe it’s about love’s power to undo you, or conversely, to save you from madness. Maybe it’s about impostor syndrome- that fear we sometimes have when we believe we are undeservedly given something wonderful and that it’s only a matter of time before we are found out, recognized as unworthy. It’s certainly worth reading.
Alright. I’m going to stop telling you what to do. Except I still insist that you come over for a mojito. Whatever you’re reading on the train, I look forward to discussing it with you in the Bushwick backyard sunshine.