Sunday, September 12, 2010

Maybe I Really Am a Writer!

I've found that, increasingly, I wake up during the night or early in the morning with fully formed blog posts written in my head. I can't wait to get to the computer but it isn't fair to put down whatever thoughts are floating about my consciousness - not fair to readers who come here expecting to read about books. I simply can't read fast enough to keep the theme of "reading around the world" going, though you'll all admit that I try like hell!

Don has had an idea that I should create a second blog to deal more with my political and societal musings, which can be triggered at a moment's notice by an off hand comment from a customer at the library, an observation of human interactions that sometimes feed my soul but more often tend to confirm my opinion that living in another country might be the way to go.

 Just today, trying to make a dent in my Sunday papers, (I begin with The Week in Review in the Times so that I can concentrate on Frank Rich, Maureen Dowd and the guest essayists) I came up with about three different rants that I could write in a heartbeat. Let's see, Afghanistan - follow the money; Education - we're lost; Health care - why won't people admit that we're no longer number 1, not even close (unless of course, you've got the money to buy the best).

 Later, I'll peruse the News-Press while watching the US Open men's final since concentration isn't really called upon to scan the latest murders, drug busts, etc. Yesterday the sheriff's office was so proud of the garage full of marijuana it discovered after, I believe 10 hours' of men and equipment - for what? Legalize it and get it over with for heaven's sake!

You'll be glad to know that I've lightened up my ride to work with the latest from Alexander McCall Smith. I just adore the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and have found myself falling in love with Smith's version of Botswana even if I may not get there when I take my big Africa trip next year. The continent is simply too big and choices have to be made. Three weeks may seem like a long time but the itinerary we're putting together is ambitious and Gabarone just doesn't have a draw like DuBois's Ghana or Don's previous home in Senegal.

Since we plan to end our stay in the Sudwala Safari Lodge outside Kruger Park I thought it only fitting that I listen to The Double Comfort Safari Club which is, if you're familiar with the series, a slow, languorous read that can lull you to sleep on the road if you're not careful. But there's a place for this kind of novel, the sweet, insightful musings of Mma Ramotswe, McCall-Smith's alter-ego, and the delightful, quirky side kick, Mma Makutse. I feel that I know them personally, especially after watching the HBO special last year.

The plot is certainly far-fetched - a woman in the states has died and left a considerable sum to a safari guide in Botswana who treated her kindly while she was vacationing there. The attorney who writes from St. Louis to Mma Ramotswe doesn't know the name of the lodge or the name of the guide - hmmm - but will foot the bill for Precious and Grace to track down the guide, travel to the safari lodge and hand him the inheritance. You doubters will say, "oh yeah, we'll see how that works out," but I, as a reader of the series, am fully confident that it will.

By my bed I have a much sought after advanced reader's copy of Nicole Krauss's new novel The Great House. I plan to ignore the "rule of 50" on this one and keep going though it seems very dense. The reviews have been glowing from every quarter, I loved her first novel The History of Love, and the premise, though done before (remember The Red Violin?), intrigues me. Then too, how can I not admire a novelist whose protagonist relaxes by leaving the city and driving through the Berkshires - mentioning my hometown of Gt. Barrington by name?

One of the primary characters in Ms. Krauss's book is a desk. There's something mysterious and exciting about a big old desk. I remember one in my great aunts' house that intrigued me so much with it's creaky roll top, its nooks and crannies, drawers big and small that often stuck, reassuring my young, imaginative mind that something wonderful was hidden there.

The desk in the novel belonged to a revolutionary, a poet who bequeathed it to another writer when he decided to return to his own country to continue the fight against the dictator Pinochet. The writer produced novel after novel - though Krauss's description of the writing process sounds more like hell than heaven - from this cherished desk for 25 years. Then, one day a stranger calls claiming ownership of the desk and the writer's life seems to cave in on itself.

I intend to spend a lazy afternoon reading and will let you know if this novel lives up the the hype.

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