Ahh. I haven’t written about books or writing since the beginning of September.
So, as the hint of colder weather makes us start to think twice about going outside, as the corner of the couch starts to look pretty inviting, a perfect place to curl up and read, I get to write about books again.
I heard from Sandy Crane after that last book column. “I just completed reading ‘A Good American,’ by Alex George,” she wrote.
“It’s an intergenerational novel of coming to America and becoming American. Begins in 1904 and goes through to Lyndon Johnson. I really enjoyed it. Did not expect how it ended.”
Dean Prigmore extolled the virtues of “The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln,” a historical novel by Stephen L. Carter. But Dean did more than that. Knowing that he’d see me at a recent event, he brought it with him and loaned it to me. Brave man, that Dean - I’m not good at returning books. As several people around here know, more’s the pity.
Because Dean didn’t write down what’s so wonderful about this book, I can’t remember what he told me about it-except that it’s powerful and fascinating (my words). He recommends this tale by the author of “The Emperor of Ocean Park.”
Last week, my book group decided to read Steven Galloway’s “The Cellist of Sarajevo” next April. Because it’s about a musician and the effects of music on a devastated city (I hear), I bought it immediately. I checked out the first sentence — I do this often — and I was privileged to read, “It screamed downward, splitting air and sky without effort.”
Well. Even though the author writes about things uncomfortable to look at and think about, he writes with care and elegance. I can hardly wait.
Recently, hunting for a specific title at Winston Smith books, a different book forced its attention on me and made me buy it: “The Ten-¢ent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America,” by David Hajdu.
I grew up on “Mad” Magazine, which apparently was the only decent comic-like product that lasted out of the chaos of the early 1950s comic-book panic. The book’s fascinating, unnerving, not fun at all. But it’s important. It warns against censorship and the enormous harm it can do.
I’ve heard about this book since it came out in 2008, but hadn’t looked for it. Then, in one of Auburn’s bookstores, I caught my sleeve on it. Hadn’t been thinking about it, but there it was.
Tell me: can that happen on the Internet? Really? Stumbling over a book I wasn’t aware I wanted until I stumbled on it-that’s only happened to me in the library or a bookstore.
OK, enough of that. Everyone in the world knows how I feel about disappearing bookstores.
I suppose everyone in the world knows how I feel about Peter S. Beagle, too.
I’ve written several times about his wonderful “The Innkeeper’s Song,” a novel set in another world of magicians and warrior storytellers. But Beagle has published more short stories than he has novels, and I recently bought his newest collection, “Sleight of Hand.”
I wonder if this happens to other people. Opening the book immediately, I found one of his shorter stories. I sat and raced through it because I wanted to find out what happened. And of course I came to the end.
Then, a couple of days later, I read it again, slower (because, after all, I knew how it came out). And I saw things, met characters, and read lovelinesses that I had missed the first time because I’d been so impatient, so greedy.
The thing is, if I’m so greedy, why do I read so fast? If I’m so greedy, I should read slower so that I can savor everything.
What books are you this greedy about? What are you reading and loving lately? Let me hear from you. Email me at the address below!
Susan Rushton’s opinion column appears every other Sunday in the Auburn Journal. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.