Tuesday, January 12, 2010

the Hours

I'm reading a few books right now, going through one of those rare fiction phases: "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham; "The Year of the Flood" by Margaret Atwood; and just an occasional page at a time, "The Tale of Despereaux" by Kate DiCamillo. I'm half way through the Hours already, though I only bought it Saturday (trading in a large, expensive hardbound copy of "The Quilts of Gees Bend," which I got for Christmas and already owned.) Amusingly, I'm consuming the book in utterly un-literary fashion: saw the movie years ago, then bought the Philip Glass soundtrack, and now have finally committed to the novel itself, which won a Pulitzer (I'm so ignorant.) Though the film was quite true to the story, and I feel as though I've already been here; though it may be the story itself which compels such a feeling, since there's plenty of longing and desperation and self-doubt to be had. The Atwood was a gift from a friend, who has been over many years responsible for most of the fiction I've bothered with, as an adult. I'm afraid it's another end-of-the-world epic of women struggling to survive, but no matter. Not as good as "The Blind Assassin," I can already tell.

Now is a good time for escapism. Life is every bit as strange as art these days. Wonderful and wretched. The Hours compels me in part because of its lists, the exhaustive lyrical detail of every scene; but mostly because it is full of death, women standing right at the edge of the grave, leaning toward or away, contemplating oblivion. Not me, I'm not there at all -- but there are women trapped in houses, too, considering their failings, gasping for breath. Women wondering what they are for. Me, sometimes.

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