Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Help! I need help!

It will come as no surprise to anyone that replacing one's entire knee joint is a rather big deal. I saw an x-ray Monday of my husband's new knee. They sawed off the ends of his shinbone and his femur, and shaved the backside of his patella, and added whole new ends made of teflon or something that fit together cunningly well and will, in time, work brilliantly, I'm sure.

They are starting to function now. It's been painful, and difficult. My husband reacts oddly and un-usefully to opiods and apparently also has some strange anatomy--some nerve too close to some artery--that makes nerve blocks not work well. So everything hurt, and still does. He has been diligent in this therapy. He's slowly improving. He's back to work half-days this week.

Last week sucked for several reasons, some of which aren't wholly my story. One of the more minor examples: after a very quick business trip to Orlando on Friday (I accepted the Sunshine State Young Reader's Award, with thankfulness and joy) the plane I was on got within five miles of home before deciding it was too foggy to land. We diverted back to Atlanta where I spent the night in a cheap airport hotel. Not a crisis. Just annoying. But other bits were worse.

In the midst of all of it I've been struggling to find a single damn thing to read.

I took The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici with me to the hospital on the day of Bart's surgery, along with a French grammar I'm studying. We had to check-in by 5:15 am. Yeah. Luckily I've got some easy computer games on my phone.

At home I tried again with the first book on my to-read pile. The Librarian of Auschwitz. Yeah. No. I don't care how well-written the book is, Auschwitz is still Auschwitz. Not something to enjoy in times of trouble.

Okay, so next I went with a duo of two Mary Balogh Christmas novellas. I quite liked the first one. Fluffy, but very Christmassy. Then the second was essentially the first over again. Slightly different setup but exact same Christmas details, down to a small boy claiming he could, "skate like the wind." They were written years apart; publishing them in the same volume was a really bad idea. So I was off Mary.

Tried N. K. Jemisin next. I think she's brilliant and I'll probably love her stuff when I've got the brainpower to make sense of it. This is not that time.

My book club book is Girl, Wash Your Face. My sister loved it. I think in most circumstances I would like it, but again, not now. From what I can tell it's a light pep-talk, and while I usually love me a good advice book I'm not taking advice this week. I'll try that one again on the weekend because I would like to have read it by book club.

I have a lot of books downloaded on my iPad, most of them comfort fluff. I was just starting to go to them when I shattered my iPad's screen. I looked at it one morning and it was broken. Probably I knocked it out of my bed on the night. Anyway, it still functions--though probably not for long--but it's very hard to read the words behind the broken screen.

I had Challenger Deep from the library. Love Neal Schusterman. Don't really want to read about schizophrenia this month.

I had The Nanny Diaries from the library, too. I felt too sorry for the children in the book to find it funny.

Nine Rules to Break When You're Romancing a Rake. Sounded very promising. However--if you're going to write Regency-era novels, for Lawdssake learn enough about horses. Everyone rode them or traveled in carriages back then. No one drives a high-perch phaeton in the country in a snowstorm. No one. If you don't understand what is meant by the phrase, "well-matched bays," don't use it, and don't stick women on stallions as though it were an everyday thing. Stallions themselves--not an everyday thing. Not even then.  (Once I read ten pages of a book where, on page 10, the young Duke grabbed his shotgun and went out solo on foot to do a little fox-hunting.)

Ahhhhhh. I re-read my two favorite Joanna Bourne novels, Rogue Spy and The Black Hawk. Then I fumbled around with the opening chapters of Kate Morton's The Clockmaker's Daughter. She's like JoJo Moyes where I'm concerned--sometimes I like her, sometimes I don't. This one I don't.

Picked up--again, library book--Life Among The Savages, a memoir by stellar American novelist Shirley Jackson. I was really enjoying it--funny, accessible, light--when I noticed on the bio on the back that she'd died in 1965, aged only 48. I'm 51. So that sucked. So then I looked her up on Wikipedia to see why she died so young, and the answer was heart trouble and cigarettes and addiction and anxiety, and also her husband was an over-controlling womanizer who forced her to agree to an "open marriage" she didn't want. Now I know Wikipedia is not wholly reliable. My own entry is rigorously policed by my daughter's friend, who has to keep editing out ridiculous phrases other people keep putting it--it's become on the nature of a family joke--but still, reading about her life made me see her memoir, in which her husband keeps murmuring about money while heading off to his office, gleefully, which she tries to cope with four children and a series of unreliable household help and writing novels that are still considered classics in their genre seventy years later, as well as making most of the household income--a little differently, and much less amusing. When she died her younger children were still living at home. I was not looking to read about disasters.

Then my lovely friend Hilary McKay recommended a old book by Elizabeth Von Atrim, Fraulein Schmidt and Mr. Anstruther. My new iPad had arrived, so I looked this book up, and it was FREE on Kindle, probably because it's so old and obscure. Started it with great joy. Then put it down. I'll probably love it some day. For now, not so much. I read 20 pages and absolutely nothing happened. Not one blessed thing. Lots of words, charming words, not a one of them fine active verbs. I'm not absolutely addicted to plots, but still.

That was last night. That's my reading history of the past two weeks. I typically read 4-5 books per week. The past two weeks: 3--the two Joanna Bournes, and Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp's Game Changer, a short brilliant nonfiction book about increasing access to books in schoolchildren. So, 1.5 books per week in weeks when I've had lots of reading time. It's no wonder I'm cranky.

I'm headed back to the library this afternoon while my husband's at physical therapy. Help a sister out, here. What's good? What will be not sad and not stupid and not too bleeping literary?

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