December 31, 2009
The best thing about Christmas this lean year was the feeling of near decadence when Scott brought home new books for us to enjoy, an unexpected largess when we’d agreed not to exchange gifts. Among them are The Magicians by Lev Grossman and Alice Munro’s new story collection. I’m still reeling from the first Munro story, nearly as much from my own squeamishness as her brilliance since it involves murdered children. I finished the story and set the book down carefully as if it had done me an injury and I feared mishandling it would damage me further. But it’s still on my nightstand, and when my feelings are less raw I’ll take it up again.
Setting the Munro aside spurred me to take up the Grossman novel sooner than I might have. Everyone’s calling it a Harry Potter book for grown-ups, and I suppose that’s apt enough—and if that shorthand encourages a jillion folks to read it, then OK, let it stand. I dove in a few days ago, then took to my bed early last night and finished it around midnight, so it’s probably too soon to articulate what it was exactly I loved about it beyond that delicious pleasure of immersion.
Perhaps the most important book on my nightstand right now is the bound galleys of Scott’s new book, On the Grid. I’m trying to read it through objectively, which isn’t as hard as you’d think. For a long stretch of its creation I was pretty thoroughly preoccupied with the care and feeding of our younger son, who didn’t sleep more than three hours at a stretch for the first eight months. Scott’s comings and goings from his office-shed out back were for a time peripheral, something I kept the vaguest of tabs on. But now here is all his labor distilled before me, and I can regard and admire in full both his discipline and his shining sentences. Thank you for the books, my love.