Sunday Salon: July 1, 2012 The end is near! And some other stuff.


Welcome to Sunday, as apparently I've made it to yet another one. Still hotter than Hades here, still no appreciable rain, just enough to raise the humidity and turn me into a screeching, hair-ripping banshee. Or even more so. I keep inside, or in the air-conditioned car, when at all possible and I make sure that's possible.

The exception was yesterday afternoon, when my dear daughter and I drove down to Naperville, IL intent upon attending a book talk/signing with author Jodi Picoult and her daughter – Samantha Van Leer – the mother/daughter author duo of the new YA book Between the Lines.


"Delilah is a bit of a loner who prefers spending her time in the school library with her head in a book—one book in particular. Between the Lines may be a fairy tale, but it feels real. Prince Oliver is brave, adventurous, and loving. He really speaks to Delilah.

 And then one day Oliver actually speaks to her. Turns out, Oliver is more than a one-dimensional storybook prince. He’s a restless teen who feels trapped by his literary existence and hates that his entire life is predetermined. He’s sure there’s more for him out there in the real world, and Delilah might just be his key to freedom."


It's over an hour's drive to Naperville, with nothing special to recommend itself. There's no beautiful scenery, unless you like a few tucked in areas of compacted trees (i.e.: forest preserve land), which I suppose is better than concrete and suburban sprawl. Spraaaaaawl. Is that ever an appropriate-sounding word.

Anyway. Whats kind of funny about the whole trip is we didn't get out of the house on time and were racing like mad to get there. When we did arrive we saw people coming out, books in hand. Books which happened to have the names of these two authors on the spines! What a coincidence! But no, not a coincidence! I'd remembered the time incorrectly and instead of starting at 2:30 the event actually started at 2:00. We arrived what we thought was 15 minutes late, annoying but at least we'd hear a bit of her speaking and Q & A.

Oh no, we didn't. We got there in time to buy books, get in line and get the puppies signed. But what's really hilarious – the cherry atop that cake – is my daughter wrinkled her nose at the YA book. What she really wanted was Jodi Picoult's signature on My Sister's Keeper, an older title about a sister born to a couple wanting her stem cells in order to save her older sister, afflicted with leukemia.

Since I'd driven all that way I bought the damn YA title. A book by a writer I'm not especially crazy about and whom I don't regularly read. And my daughter got her signed copy of the book she wanted.

Ha. Hi… lar… i… ous.

But it wasn't a total loss. It was good mother-daughter time. Considering she's off to college in the fall I have no complaints about the wild ride we had. We visited the bookstore, Anderson's Books  – the signing was actually held in the auditorium of a local college – and my daughter bought The Bell Jar because she wanted, and I quote, "A book about an insane person." Did I mention she's going to study psychology? We also had lunch at Chipotle, a perennial favorite. Then the ride back, in which we good-naturedly insulted each other for our combination poor senses of direction and total lack of attention spans. So there's that.

In reading news, still plugging away at Ulysses. In a bit of serendipity, there was a fantastic article in the New York Times Magazine this morning about "The American Ulysses: Faulkner's Absalom! Absalom!" Read it! It's spectacular and is adapted from the upcoming new intro to The Modern Library's new edition of the book, to be published by later this month. Brilliant. I'm going to buy the new edition just to have this intro, though I must have three editions of the book at home already. It's just that good.

I subscribe to the belief Irish fiction is closely related to Southern fiction, partially because the Irish settled much of the U.S. South. My own family springs from that, as a matter of fact. What's key are the elements of deep love of the land and place, as well as the land itself as a somewhat looming character – not necessarily menacingly but with a very heavy presence. If you've read much fiction originating in both areas you'll see what I mean, which is why the Ulysses/Absalom! Absalom! comparision is particularly apt. And why both are so closely attached to my heart.

Meanwhile, I'm also reading Pride and Prejudice, for the reasons I mentioned this past week. Also, Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, a free ARC I was given at Lake Forest Book Store last week during the Great Library/Bookstore Collaboration Meeting they hosted. Mr. Penumbra's a book lover's dream so far, set in one of those stores we dream of: the sort stretching up to near infinity… Swoon.

Next up may be Emma Donohue's upcoming Astray, another ARC I snagged in a fight to the death lottery sort of system. It's a collection of short stories, a genre I'm beginning to come to terms with. It's either that or another ARC about a five year old boy with an imaginary friend, one who narrates the story. I'm blanking on the title. Argh. Someone out there may know and comment or my brain may have a miraculous recovery. Or I'll get off my lazy arse and find it.

That's it for next week, unless you want to hear me complain about annoying life events outside reading. Sorry to disappoint this week. Chin up!



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