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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Books, Books, Books!

I'm about to shower and head to work soon, getting in a little later than I would normally, but it's been a couple late nights and my week is changing as a result, and I have a coffee to finish.

Last night I started making spaghetti sauce at 9:45 after writing for an hour or so upon my return from work. Naturally, I got to bed around 2.

New Year's day night was spent sifting through all my books and another 2am beddy-bye. It was worth it, though, looking at the order and beauty of my shelves now. I'm getting rid of anything that never made me think "I really should read that" or that I read and might've been good but didn't impact me on a cosmic or new-favourite kind of way.

So, my Hunter Thompson and Paul Theroux books, I'm keeping. Ditto any Cormac McCarthy, Wallace Stegner, Peter Matthiesen, Pat Barker, William Dalrymple, or Pico Iyer books. To name a few. Plus anything I've never read and know I should, or things I coveted when working at Duthie's Books because I knew it was a more temporary than contemporary book, a lesser-than in a literary world that never stands still long, but a book that might be very much worth the reading, regardless of when I'd get around to doing it. (IE: Books that should stand the test of time, but won't.)

I'm probably getting rid of a third of my books this week. I'm excited about getting rid of puffery books that cost me a pretty penny, like Jonathan Franzen's Corrections, which disappointed me in a huge way. Small matter of relevant plot missing in that book. How the fuck did it win anything? God. Writers should top being so impressed with witty coinage and spinning of wry phrases and maybe try conjuring a little fucking significance in plot, instead. Plot's kinda significant, don't you think, and shouldn't be so fleetingly present as it is in that fucking National Book Award Winner's book. How can something so long say so little?

But cleaning up brought me into contact with a few old books, one I need to finish that I got interrupted in, but was loving, years ago, Colum McCann's This Side of Brightness, which I'll save until spring, given it takes place largely under New York City and Vancouver's a little too dark as it is this winter, and another one I always intended to read but will begin today, Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist, about the seedy battles between the Intuitionist elevator repairperson's guild and the Empiricist elevator repair guild. Heh heh. (One "intuits" what's wrong with elevators, the others check every winch and pulley.) The reviews do rave about it and I have an advance reader's copy with an uncracked spine.

There is a shocking amount of Booker Prize nominees in my stack. And then the elephants I could never get into, like DeLillo's Underworld, which I'm debating keeping because I feel small and ridiculous that I've failed to read it, and Jame Clavelle's Shogun and that other long-winded James, Michener's got a couple books in the stack. Roddy Doyle's on his way out along with another several contemporary Irish writers and their books, including the also much disappointing Dork of Cork, which sold out and sucked ass in the end.

It feels really fucking weird to be moving on from all my good books. I always wanted a big library, but with the real estate market as it is in Vancouver, I'm committing to the idea of living in my cute pad for a very long time. I know a couple former tenants lived here 15, 20 years. It's that kind of building, and my apartment's a charmer... but I only have so much space, and the books are making me feel a little too trapped, and it's either I save my books for a library I might never have the space to enjoy, or I move on.

I'll be all sad and happy at the same time when they're gone. I'm having anxiety attacks (not really) about getting rid of these things, too. But having space, even white space, to look at? Priceless.

I've read a half-dozen books this season. That's the most in years. Far cry from the old book-a-week days, but I'm pretty pleased to be considering myself a reader again these days. I'll read more as time passes, too, but for now, it's a good start.

Anyhow. Off I go to delve into the sordid world of elevator repairs.