Wednesday, November 10, 2010
A Better Day!
So one more radiation down (#6); that leaves 27 more!
Let me just start by saying how lucky I am this semester to have a pretty great group of students, a bunch of fabulous colleagues and friends (old and new), and the best husband in the world. I don't know how I could have survived the last few months without all three of these "forces." So yesterday I felt like shit mentally. Today I feel stronger in that regard but now I am having problems with those damn intestinal issues (the pun seems too easy here!). Wait, let me check my calendar. Yep. Just over a week since chemo and that is about the time that this crap (literally!) is due. So today bad things have been happening in the bathroom. But at least this just leaves me feeling physically drained, not emotionally drained. And -- thank you to the spirits that be! -- tomorrow is a school holiday. Which I plan to spend in bed as long as possible.
I am embarrassed to admit that I just finished Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. It usually doesn't take me a couple of weeks to read a novel but this was a "heavy" read (and it doesn't help that I am usually reading more than one book at a time anyway; additionally, I think I have a bit of chemo brain going on too!). So what do I think? You might think it presumptuous to compare Franzen's novel to Tolstoy. As it happens, I needn't bother, since Franzen has done it for me. Patty, one of the protagonists in the novel, directly brings in Tolstoy and I found this slightly unsettling (maybe because I read the book with the whole "this is the book of the century" mantra going on in my head). I think I heard someone on NPR say that Tolstoy turns up in the pages of Freedom as a comment on the power of fiction to give shape to a reader's life, and as a reminder of Franzen's own ambitions. Oh yeah. Like The Corrections (his previous novel; this is the one that got him in "trouble" with Oprah), the story translates into a family saga, an analysis I guess you could say of "the" Mid-Western family. At its heart are Patty and Walter Berglund, a baby-boomer couple. Financially comfortable, secure in their left-leaning political beliefs, and parents of an outwardly super son and daughter, the Berglunds are nonetheless afflicted by dissatisfaction and disappointment.
Well ... I won't go on too much further. I do think this novel is worth the read (even at almost 600 pages) and I think it's "warmer" (if that's the right word) than The Corrections. At the very least, I wasn't left unsatisfied like I was with this previous novel; in fact, I was even surprised at the way the novel ended -- and I like being surprised! But ... it is obviously about 90 years too early to determine if this is "the" greatest novel of the century.
So what's next on my reading list? My Non-Western Literature class is about to start Maryse Conde's I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (one of my favorite Caribbean writers!) and my Honors literature class is about to pick up Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. But for my pleasure reading, I just started The Wilding by Benjamin Percy -- I just received it as part of the "Indiespensable" Program at my favorite bookstore, Powells.com. This is a cool program where you get a new (often independent) special edition book (and some free gifts) every 6 weeks or so. Click here if you are interested! I am a huge fan!