Going back

Making a library run this morning and returning the following books unfinished:

woolfMrs. Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light.  A really interesting book about Virginia Woolf and the servants on whom she depended all her life.  Woolf’s dismissive comments about the working classes, including the people who worked for her and her family, have driven a wedge between Woolf and some of her readers, and this book feels like attention paid where it needed to be paid.  If I had world enough and time, or if I were a Woolf scholar or more of a devotee, I would absolutely finish reading it, but having renewed it once, I’m admitting that I probably never will.

dolphinThe Dolphin Way: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy, Motivated Kids–Without Turning into a Tiger by Shimi Kang, M.D. Absolutely nothing wrong with this cheerful, encouraging book about not being either a completely nuts or a completely checked-out parent.  But also just not engaging enough to keep reading for the same point to be made over and over again.  A better read in a similar vein is Wendy Mogel’s  The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and its companion volume for parents of teenagers, The Blessing of a B-Minus.  Or, as I’ve mentioned here before, one of Mike Riera’s books.

wildmertonI’m not saying I’ll never return to Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain.  It is one of those books I expect to read some day if I live long enough.  It’s just not going to be this summer, I guess.  I did get far enough into it to have some possibly unrealistic expectations about spiritual autobiography set up for me when I listened to Wild on CD.  Strayed was writing a different kind of book and I did end up being pretty compelled by the story she was telling.  I guess it would have been hard for the book to have lived up to the level of bestsellerdom it has achieved.  Also, the reader’s voice never stopped being just a little bit irritating–there was a little too much character in it.  I would rather have heard either the author’s voice, I think, or a more neutral voice that did not try to “do” the voices in dialogue.  A great byproduct of having listened to Wild is that I went back to Strayed’s “Dear Sugar” columns at The Rumpus.  I love advice columns, but in the past I haven’t had much patience for the long, discursive replies from Sugar.  Now, with her style more firmly fixed in my mind–although the voice of Wild is pitched to sound more like the voice of the young woman she was at the time of her hike along the Pacific Crest Trail–I find I’m more interested and have been enjoying reading them one or two at a time.

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