Every now and then, with absolutely no rhyme or reason to it, I like to make a list of a few things I'm enjoying. Like these:
Things I'm Reading
After seeing her speak on a panel at the Festival of Faith and Writing, I was curious about Carlene Bauer, so I checked out her memoir about growing up evangelical and moving to New York City to work in publishing, about virginity and faith and maturity. I loved the first 2/3 or so - lovely sentences, apt images, strong level of self-awareness and humor. The final section was much weaker, with too many characters to keep straight (including one never named, but called "my Friend") and a less-interrogated sense of her own self.
I'm happy to say that Carlene Bauer's first novel shone with gorgeous prose and strong characters from beginning to end. An epistolary novel, it tells the story of the relationship between two young writers in the nineteen fifties in New York (inspired, I've read, by the relationship between Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell). This book isn't for everyone, but for people who love books, sort-of-pretentious language, faith, doubt, genius, Catholicism -- highly recommended.
Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch won the Pulitzer Prize for literature last year, and for good reason. Dickensian in scope and character, it's still very much a twenty-first century novel, telling a story about a boy whose mother dies in a terrorist attack on a museum in New York City. If I say much more about the book's themes of beauty, restoration, fatalism vs. free will, etc., I'll end up with an essay here. Loved it.
The Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series by Louise Penny has been my bread and butter this month, though, and they are perfect. With the caveat that it took me two tries to get into the first one (too many characters introduced all at once in the first chapter, in my opinion), these are readable, addictive, lovely, and willing to engage with the big ideas that the best murder mysteries (like Dorothy Sayer's or P.D. James's for example) deal with.
My To-Read List for Summer
I'll also finish up the Louise Penny books, hopefully complete some of the nonfiction books that I love (but never seem to choose when I have a fiction alternative), and be reading and re-reading a select list of memoirs and biographies (because...)
Things I'm Writing
- My name, on the third page of a contract agreeing to be represented by
- A book (apparently), especially the first twenty pages or so, which I have to submit to the writer's
workshop I'm attending this July, which is going to be amazing for many reasons, not least among them,
a room of one's own. No responsibilities but writing and workshopping, for a whole week.
-1500 words on Buzzfeed quizzes. You'll have to read all 1500 of them to figure out
Which Kind of Buzzfeed Quiz Taker Are You?
-And my name, again, on (talk about burying the lede, here!) a contract for a new position at Taylor, as the Assistant Director of the Honors Program. I'll be working twenty hours a week beginning August 1, helping to plan the events and programming the Honors program. And probably going to China with the Honors freshman for two weeks in January (!!!).
Things I'm Watching
Not very much, because the internet out in the country has been almost non-existent, so there's no streaming of anything. But we're excited every week for new episodes of Mad Men and Orphan Black.
And we watched the movie Philomena last weekend, and really liked it.
Oh, and watching Rosie at ballet, and Owen with his swords.
Michael Rachap of Readeez sent me and the kids a couple of his dvds, too, and they're quite nice. Simple, whimsical illustrations (sort of in the style of Calvin and Hobbes) accompany fun, catchy tunes, and reinforce word recognition by showing the words on screen, syllable by syllable, as the music plays. The kids liked them, and the music didn't drive me crazy (big, rare bonus for kids' music). There are also some Bible memory CDs available. You can try some for free just by joining the email list.
Things in my Garden
So many things! Snap peas, carrots, lettuce, kale, chard, arugula, asparagus, potatoes, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, melons, corn, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries.
And bees in the hive, and chickens in the coop.
What are you enjoying these days?