From depression to monkeys

It seems I stopped writing about books after I read “The Kite Runner” in May. But I have been reading since then.

The Year of Magical Thinking
I didn’t write anything in my Reading Journal about this, but it was profoundly depressing.

All I wrote about this was, “I finished this, but I don’t recall when, exactly.” So I don’t remember anything about it. What’s the point of keeping a Reading Journal? Indeed. Note to self: be more diligent in the Reading Journaling.

The Shadow of the Wind
I read about this in an O magazine interview with Felicity Huffman. She loved it. I didn’t. I found it “VC Andrews-esque.”

Devil in the Details
“not as funny as I’d been led to believe”

The Da Vinci Code
I swore I wouldn’t read this, but it was the only thing on Dad’s bookshelf I hadn’t read. So I read it. And here’s what I thought:

I can see why this was so popular (it’s a very quick read), but I didn’t care for it. Brown seemed to run out of ideas for some of the characters (Silas in particular), and it seemed to wrap up too quickly. …

I also found it annoying how Brown seemed to try to mollify the Catholic church. The whole point of the book seemed to be the Catholic Conspiracy, but several times Langdon or others said “But the Catholics today are nice. It was all the old Catholics. We don’t have a problem with you, Church!”

Maybe I was in a bitter place when I read the book. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Whatever.

To Kill a Mockingbird
As sound as ever.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next
This might not be the best choice for poolside reading, but it was what I had. I had a hard time reading this, probably because I already knew how it ended.

Tishomingo Blues
Not Elmore Leonard’s best.

Marley & Me
I actually copied a bit of this down:

Children serve as impossible-to-ignore, in-your-face timepieces, marking the relentless march of one’s life through what otherwise might seem an infinite sea of minutes, hours, days and years …

I liked “Marley & Me.” It made me cry.

Monkeys, Go Home!
I read this at about 3am during a horrible bout of indigestion. Incidentally, I’m writing this during another bout. It looks like I’ll never eat Mexican food again. I’m more than a little sad about that. Pizza and spaghetti appear to be out, too. Stupid digestive system. But enough about me. Let’s talk monkeys.

Monkeys, Go Home!” was sitting next to the armchair in my in-laws’ living room, where I was trying to sleep. It’s about olive-picking, NASA-reject monkeys. Need I say more?

The memory game

I’m doing this because I don’t want Beth to be mad at me. And because I’m lazy and don’t want to write anything else.

Five items in my freezer
Let’s pretend I still have a freezer. And then we’ll pretend I can remember what was in it.

  1. green peas
  2. the popsicles I don’t like
  3. a Cordouroy-shaped chunk of cake from my baby shower
  4. an Amy’s burrito
  5. ice packs

Five items in my closet
Again, let’s pretend …

  1. too-small clothes
  2. too-big clothes
  3. shoes I never wear
  4. T-shirts Rockford never wears
  5. a nightstand

Five items in my car
I have a car! For a few more days!

  1. an iPod
  2. a car seat
  3. an empty water bottle
  4. flip-flops
  5. an atlas

Five items in my purse

  1. a wallet
  2. earrings
  3. a lovely wooden pen that doesn’t work sometimes but it’s so pretty
  4. a teething ring
  5. lots of random paper that I need to throw away

Five people I tag
I don’t know enough people on the Internet to do this, really. Not enough people who will respond, at least.

"My Son the Man"

American Life in Poetry: Column 070

By Ted Kooser,
U.S. poet laureate, 2004-2006

As a man I’ll never gain the wisdom Sharon Olds expresses in this poem about motherhood, but one of the reasons poetry is essential is that it can take us so far into someone else’s experience that we feel it’s our own.

My Son the Man

Suddenly his shoulders get a lot wider,
the way Houdini would expand his body
while people were putting him in chains. It seems
no time since I would help him to put on his sleeper,
guide his calves into the gold interior,
zip him up and toss him up and
catch his weight. I cannot imagine him
no longer a child, and I know I must get ready,
get over my fear of men now my son
is going to be one. This was not
what I had in mind when he pressed up through me like a
sealed trunk through the ice of the Hudson,
snapped the padlock, unsnaked the chains,
and appeared in my arms. Now he looks at me
the way Houdini studied a box
to learn the way out, then smiled and let himself be manacled.

“My Son the Man” from THE WELLSPRING by Sharon Olds. Copyright (c) 1996 by Sharon Olds. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.