Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just Who Do You Think You Are, Georgette Spelvin?

Who Are You?
Our kids left for college a few weeks ago. Their rumps were barely out the door when my husband asked me, "Who are you?" When I figure it out, I'll have to let him know. In the meantime, we're becoming reacquainted by cleaning our bedroom closet, agreeing we won't tackle the garage (that's on my bucket list), and groaning through each other's guilty-pleasure movies (mine, mindless action; his, B-movies from the 1940s and '50s). We're talking about moving away from the California coast, but we can't agree on a destination (mine, Vermont or Oregon; his, San Diego or Mars). Wine, ocean, and jobs (mine, computer consultant; his, physician) are keeping us put for now. Sending kids through college requires a lot of wine and ocean, er, time on the job.

Leo Tolstoy
Pre-husband and kids, I grew up on a horse ranch in the Pacific Northwest. Life was outdoor sports when the weather was good or books inside when the weather was bad. We didn't have much to read between Golden Books for tots and my parents' books, so once I finished The Little Red Hen, I graduated to Joyce Cary's The Horse's Mouth, chosen because of the word "horse" in the title, and Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, chosen because Tolstoy's picture in the front reminded me of Santa Claus. I'm sure you're not surprised when I tell you that reading those books made my head spin like a top. I discovered I liked that feeling.

On occasion, I still love being utterly lost when I read. It's relaxing to let my mind frolic around. Postmodern authors such as Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, and William Faulkner are excellent for that purpose. I enjoy mysteries from traditional to noir, adventure, literary fiction, criticism, philosophy, poetry, and books about science, politics, nature, and sports.

Our house and my car are overflowing with books. Some in my to-read pile: Samuel Delaney's Dhalgren, Alice LaPlante's Turn of Mind, Harry Mulisch's The Discovery of HeavenDavid Benioff's City of Thieves, Ignacio Padilla's Shadow Without a Name, and Mary Willis Walker's Under the Beetle's Cellar. I've been doing a lot of reading, fiction and nonfiction, on the theme of identity: amnesia, impersonation, misidentification as in Capgras delusion, twins, doubles, and doppelgängers. What about you? What have you read, and what are you looking forward to reading?

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