Saturday, January 10, 2009

Nerd-like Leanings

I'm reading two good books right now. I haven't read two books at the same time since I was probably in middle school.
(I remember in my 6th or 7th grade math class hiding Little Women or The Secret Garden or a series about a ballerina behind my math book and tilting it so that the teacher couldn't see what I was doing, and I would just read whatever I wanted and didn't have to worry about bothering with that bland, pointless math junk. Um, who cares? I think, sitting here and reminiscing, that this moment established my nerdhood. My rebellious misbehavior was ... reading. How sad.)

Ironically, or maybe this is what got me thinking about this in the first place, a co-worker asked me last night if I was a nerd. (the same co-worker who told me my husband looks much younger than I do--ouch.) If someone asks that question (nerd, eh?), it's always affirmative. If someone is asking, it's yes. It just is. I told him with defensive pride that I like to read, that this is who I am and what I enjoy.

I'm not pretending to listen to Soulja Boy (Who is that? Why has he misspelled his name in such a ridiculous way?) or that I wear booties (They are ugly. Period.) Admittedly, I make some sacrifices to Trend, but underneath, I prefer solitary reading and writing to most everything else. Am I wearing my glasses right now? Yes, I am.

Anyway, back to the point, I'm reading In the Beauty of the Lilies by John Updike, and so far it's been about a Presbyterian minister who sort of unwillingly becomes an atheist and resigns from his position. I think it's going to shift narrators to his son soon. I really multiple perspective novels. I read David Foster Wallace's criticism of Updike, but I haven't read Updike before, and I expected to hate him, but I don't. Up to this point, I really like his imagery and exploration of faltering faith.

My second book is The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao. I cannot stop reading it. Everyone should read it. Read it! He withholds the identity of the narrator until about half way through, but he has a conversational voice like you've never read. There's lots of Spanish sprinkled in, and so it's been pretty helpful to be reading at Lanny's. The characters of Oscar and his mom are so well done. Speaking of nerds, Oscar is so funny and pitiful that you have to just just love and sympathize with him. His history, coming out of his mom and grandfather's past especially, is tragic and comic book mythic. Diaz loves his footnotes, a la David Foster Wallace coincidentally, and he inserts lots of Dominican history and legend in them. Read it!

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