Maybe you're not ready
for another bullet-train mystery. Or maybe you don't have the energy for tackling a
non-fiction book the same size and heft as a collegiate dictionary. Maybe what you need
is what I needed, a book like this one. A diary, let's say, of an uneasy soul like
Emmett who seems to have everything, yet chooses to get up in the early morning hours of
winter to start a fire and write. Every day, he writes a few pages about such things as
sweat-sock eye pillows and the care and feeding of the family duck. |
of James Bond -- look elsewhere, unless you're ready for a more thoughtful break. Then
let the writing pull you in. Nicholson Baker describes what a burning fire looks like
and what a sock hole feels like and how the smell of another sock reminds him of his
grandfather. These are original observations yet familiar and amusing sometimes too. A
little patience, a good ripping snowstorm, and curiosity are all you need to find
yourself absorbed in this book.
"When I lit the
fire this morning, a pompadour styling of flame came forward from underneath and swooped
back around a half-detached piece of bark. Right now there is one flame near the front
that has a purple underpainting but a strong opacity of yellows and oranges and whites:
it is flapping like one of those pennants that used to be strung around used-car lots.
You don't see those so much anymore: multicolored vinyl triangular flags on cords that
hopeful sales managers hung from pole to pole to offer a sense of carnival."
There is a plot, if you agree with me to call it that, although it is
completely internal. In the beginning, Emmett writes in a removed tone that sounds
something like despair, but gradually, he moves away from that. He makes a change. There
now, I hope I haven't given away the ending.
If you're in a reflective
state of mind yourself, maybe warmly stationed under a blanket on a soft couch on a slow
winter's day, then perhaps you'll enjoy it too.