Saturday, February 25, 2012

Playing catch-up

Whoops, that week sure went by fast! It was kind of a blur, too, because part of it included a health scare for a couple of family members, and that can really get your stress levels soaring. I’m happy to report that everything worked out okay!

We also had tickets to our last Notre Dame basketball game of the season, and got to see them beat West Virginia by 27 points. We’re watching them play St. John’s at the moment (the game just ended, and ND lost, darn it), and this evening we have tickets to our last hockey game of the season, against Michigan State. We’ve really enjoyed our games this let’s hope we can get tickets for all the home football games this year! I love all three sports, but the football experience is my favorite. Tailgating, baby!

Pompey's_Pillar_2006I’ve been dealing with an issue or two, and as is often the case in such situations, I retreat into books and/or music. I’ve been concentrating mostly on books this time around (but I could also write a separate entry about the song “These Days” by Foo Fighters, and I just might). The next book on my book club list (the Modern Library Top 100 novels, if you recall) is The Alexandria Quartet by an English writer, Lawrence Durell. (The picture I’ve posted here is Pompey’s Pillar, a remnant of the Roman presence in Alexandria.) It actually consists of four books, and the first is Justine. I don’t mean for this to sound pretentious, but I am really captivated by this book. It’s some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever encountered. The way he describes Alexandria (the one in Egypt, not the one in central Indiana!) makes me almost capable of seeing it, hearing it, and smelling it, both the good and the bad.

When he writes of the characters and situations, I can see them in my mind, see the way they look and the expression in their eyes. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that was able to so completely create the images in my mind. I’m actually in awe here! Check out a few of the lines I loved so much that I highlighted them in my Kindle and wrote them in my notebook:

“He is a rare figure among the diplomats in that he appears to possess a vertebral column.”

“His heart has withered in him and he has been left with the five senses, like pieces of a broken wineglass.”

“...for those of us who feel deeply and who are at all conscious of the inextricable tangle of human thought there is only one response to be made—ironic tenderness and silence.”

That last one especially spoke to me. It reminded me of a quote from Jodi Picoult that Cousin Shane posted the other day: “Let me tell you this: if you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it's not because they enjoy solitude. It's because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” I am very much a loner and a quiet person (I have my moments when I can talk a mile a minute, but they’re few and far between, and fairly exhausting.). Shane and I agreed that we both enjoy our solitude as well, but there is a reason I’m rather withdrawn, and there is a reason I often don’t say much. Sometimes there’s no point in saying it, sometimes my thoughts are too complicated to explain easily, and sometimes I realize that it’s probably best to not reveal my hand.

I’m very fortunate that Ken is pretty similar in that regard.

Anyway, I’m not very far into this book—all four volumes of the Quartet are probably about 1,000 pages, so I’ll be working on this one for a bit—but this is some truly lovely writing. I think I’m really going to enjoy this one, and this is why I’m so happy to be getting back into the list. When an author’s writing style is literally awe-inspiring, it makes me happy. When I most needed a book to “take me away,” I found one to take me all the way to WWII-era Egypt. Not too shabby!