Sunday Salon: March 11, 2012 Edition

Sundaysalon

 

Not reading quite the heavy volume I usually do lately, which you'll have noticed if you're still coming by to check my pulse regularly. Life events – in this case a terminal illness within the family, in case you haven't read my earlier posts – have turned daily routines on their heads, to a certain extent. My husband being gone so often, not to mention his general exhaustion paired with grief, forces me into a more active role at home. And with more going on within the household finding time to read has certainly suffered.

I'm being forced to read on the fly these days, or while the TV is on or the kids in motion and anything but quiet. I need heavy concentration to read. I'm not one of the lucky souls who could read in the middle of a war zone, if necessary. The days when shutting out the world was possible are over for me. I blame it on having children, becoming accustomed to having one ear on alert against the possibility of sudden choking or impending electrical shock, or any of the millions of life-threatening situations children are so well-equipped to get into. No matter their age, there's obviously some lever in the brain that trips with the increase in hormones involved in their development. Until and unless I can locate and reset that lever I'm doomed to a permanent state of fight or flight.

 

 

 

Hunchback

 

What I have been reading won't take me all that long to discuss, it's just that pathetic. For my Classics Group I've been attempting to re-read Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, failing miserably I'll admit. I first read this in high school – for my own pleasure, not for assignment – and my memories of it are glowing. This time through it's a plodding bore. It starts with a loooong section of padding, boring me nearly to tears. I'm reading it on my Kindle, so I don't know exactly what page of the actual book I'm on, but I should be well into something resembling plot by now. Instead, a few character names I vaguely recognize are just now being bandied about without so much as a hint of what I recall as the main plot. I feel quite irritated with myself for feeling this way, too, which drives another nail into the coffin. I'd been looking forward to this re-read for one of the most romantic plots in any novel I've ever read, yet I may have to abandon it, unfinished.

 

 

Storyteller

 

Next up, and much more to my liking, is Frank Delaney's latest The Last Storyteller. You may recall I earlier decided Delaney's video series on Ulysses will be the backbone of my read of the novel starting this Bloomsday. Well, the same man who's a broadcaster, speaker extraordinaire and scholar is also the author of several books set in – get ready for it – Ireland!

And this is a lovely one, for reasons that make it unique. It's written in such an unusual and pleasing framework – Irish legendary tales mixed with modern day re-tellings mixed with the beginnings of the era of the IRA – but it took a while to get into. In fact, I failed in my first start and had to go back to the beginning all over again.

Shades of Hunchback, I thought at first, but coming back into The Last Storyteller I realized attempting to start it while activity in the household was in full swing was a poor idea. This was not going to be Maeve Binchy's brand of writing, all thatched roofs and emerald green smiles with a heavy dose of broken hearts. This was much heavier, in the guise of a piece of fiction relying on Irish fiddle music and mischievous tales told by sage keepers of tradition.

It's all that, too, but woven in with much more substance and darkness. Like Ireland itself, you could say, with nearly unbearable beauty mixed with equal sadness. It isn't quite Sebastian Barry's Ireland – not so dark, or anywhere near as poetic and handsome heartrending – but more more like than Binchy's, let's admit it, fluff. Fluff I enjoyed as a youngster celebrating my Irish-American heritage, left behind with other childish things.

Frank Delaney's publicist sent me a finished copy of The Last Storyteller for review, telling me I could send him interview questions if I like. SEND FRANK DELANEY INTERVIEW QUESTIONS?! Slap me silly and call me Shamrock if that isn't a staggering offer. Have I mentioned he's referred to as THE MOST ELOQUENT MAN IN THE WORLD by NPR? Likewise, have you gathered I'm a blithering idiot, myself? Coming up with anything aside from stuttering foolishness will be a miracle.

Try asking such an author a question he hasn't been asked one million times. Okay, I've accomplished it before but not without a lot of brain-wracking and actual research in sources I won't tell as I'm greedy that way. It's nearly as tough a challenge as being asked to hug Sebastian Barry and then let go. Or finally visit Ireland, then return home to the States. Not sure I'm capable of doing either.

But yes, I will interview Frank Delaney. Posthaste, as it's nearly St. Patrick's Day and I have nothing at all prepared for that save the phrase I'd like to coach all non-Irish speakers to employ in addressing Irishmen on the holiday. A phrase sure to make an impression. We'll talk about that later.

 

In addition I'm reading a memoir written by Churchill's youngest child for review in Library Journal. Ron Rash's The Cove for review at BookBrowse.com and a slew of others for the Independent Publisher award. Then, there's the Charles Todd mystery I picked up for 99 cents for one of the Amazon Daily Deals and am finding more lifeless than I'd expected considering the lovely, compelling covers of his books.

Yes, I do judge them by their covers.

 

That will wrap up today's Salon, in which I wrote much more than I thought I would. Sorry about that. I just feel so discombobulated and a general mess. Then again, when don't I. But there you have it, a bit of what I'm working on lately, having finished so little and making slow progress on everything else.

Do have a lovely week.

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