winter days

This post is made possible by two friends: Jodi Paloni took these photos of the Days’ Cottages this winter, and Darrelyn Saloom recently taught me how to insert a slideshow into a blog post. Many thanks.

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Click on behind the photo for the story behind the photo at the top of this blog. And click on photos to see more of the cottages, and more of Truro and Provincetown.

who’s counting

I count how many books I read in a year, but I think I forgot to do that for 2010. So I just did: 50 books. About average for me.

Then I counted the number for 201134 books. Way down. I was afraid of this. Since starting to work for The Writing Life section of Hunger Mountain, I have tremendously less time to read.

As they say on the news, let me break it down for you:

Of those 34, 6 were rereads and 4 were debuts.

Of those 34,

    • 20 novels
    • 3 books on the craft of writing
    • 3 books of stories
    • 3 books of essays
    • 2 books of poetry
    • 2 books of nonfiction
    • 1 memoir

Anybody else count?

the forgotten waltz and voice

Really? you might be thinking. More on The Forgotten Waltz? Yes, there’s more.

Consider the following:

…there was no doubt that we felt easier about the world, for the fact that our father was no longer in it. We loved him, of course, but we both knew that life was simpler now that he was dead and he wasn’t coming back. 

Now with Enright’s voice and detail:

…there was no doubt that we felt easier about the world, for the fact that our father was no longer in it. We loved him, of course, but we both knew that life was simpler now that he wasn’t just ‘out,’ or ‘late,’ or even ‘gone on a wander,’ but definitely and definitively dead, dead, dead. No coming back. No late-night key scratching for the lock. (115)

And there’s more, but I think we’ll stop there. Next post, something else.

the forgotten waltz, unreliability, and wine lines

If you were to ask me to recommend a novel written in the first person, I would say Anne Enright’s The Gathering. I’ve read it twice and I’m thinking about reading it again. But I just finished her most recent novel, The Forgotten Waltz, and although I didn’t like it as much, in some ways, it makes better or more use of the powers of the first person, in particular unreliability.

In an interview in The Paris Review, Enright says:

The wonderful thing about this kind of unreliability is that it reflects the unreliability of our own narratives about our own lives.

And,

Gina Moynihan is the kind of person who realizes what she’s saying in the saying of it. And I think many of us are similar. Until you start articulating something, you don’t quite know what it is, and you don’t see the mistakes or flaws in your own argument until they’re in the air. She’s in the process of realizing what she’s saying, in the process of realizing what she knows or what she has refused to know–that’s the journey of the novel.

From Gina in The Forgotten Waltz:

But it was the first time I had said the words out loud, and it might have been true all along but it became properly true then. True like something you have discovered. (157)

Two other things. One of my favorite lines ever, which now makes me look at birds in a new way:

I think how kissing is such an extravagance of nature. Like birdsong; heartfelt and lovely beyond any possible usefulness. (81)

Finally, writer Hermione Lee wrote a dead-on but spoiler review in The Guardian, which includes this great summary of some of the wine lines to be enjoyed in The Forgotten Waltz:

They measure out their lives in large glasses of imported wine: there’s the phase of being “mad into chardonnay”, the “sauvignon blanc” years of happy marriage, alsace riesling as a spur to adultery, cracking open a “Loire white” as a reaction to bereavement.

So I started writing this post early this morning, then stopped to exercise and run some errands, and now it’s almost 3:00, and I have to leave my desk again. But I find I have still more to say about this novel. Until tomorrow…

related posts:

piling

I have a basket where I pile things that need to be done–bills, invitations, bank statements, receipts, hotel and airline confirmations, soccer schedules. Generally, the plan is that I go through it once a week. Well, there was Christmas, then Vermont, then a big writing project, then guests…. Yesterday I began to sort, and I’m still not to the bottom of the stack.

And this is just my non-writing pile.

But I have to say, I do love piling. Do you?