Thursday, September 08, 2005


I'm expecting a $50 gift certificate from Borders in the next week or so.

I'm intending to buy a cd (Patty Loveless' latest) and a mini-series on dvd (The Flame Trees of Thika).

Is it possible that I've reached my saturation point for books? It's true I'm expecting a shipment in the next few days-I wanted a copy of Robert Sapolsky's Monkeyluv to take on the Utah trip and adding D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths to the order insured I'd get free shipping-but lately I'm not feeling a burning desire to own most items I so eagerly place on my wish list.

Perhaps my disinclination to buy books these days is based on the fact that we're totally out of shelf space. I'm beginning to double-shelve, which I hate, and the sofa and chair in the study-usually the cats' domain-- have been put to use as overflow storage as well. R. and I have been trying to persuade L. to build more bookcases, but we haven't yet ripped up the carpet and installed the hardwoods in the bedroom, a job that definitely needs to finished before we seriously even think about putting in another wall of built-ins.

And then there's the fact that I always reason that library books ought to be read before the books I own. I must have at least 60 books checked out right now. That's practically a year's worth at my current rate of speed. I need to return some of these, recheck them out at a later date.

One book I do want to buy, though I'm definitely waiting until it's out in trade paper or I can pick it up used since I've already read a library copy, is Pinkerton's Sister. I actually want two copies of it since I intend to use a highlighter on one which will render it useless as a reading copy once I'm finished.

Sandra asked eons ago for my final verdict on the book and Danielle has asked as well. I've put off my response for so long that I've lost the link to a Rushforth interview that explained how he'd originally set out to write a book about Pinkerton himself, but the sister took center stage.

So my long overdue final verdict:

I loved it. I unabashedly loved it. But I don't think most readers who attempt it will.

It's too long. There are a couple fantasy set pieces that were too much even for me. And of its 729 pages I'd guess that less than 29 of those pages concern themselves with what takes place outside the main character's head (that's my highlighter project right there) on this wintry day in 1903 New York, the day that her brother is to leave for Japan-the rest is all the memories and musings of Alice Pinkerton, 34-year-old never-married still-at-home-taking-care-of-mama Alice, known throughout her Longfellow Park neighborhood as "the mad woman in the attic." (She technically lives on the third floor, not the attic.)

It's also terribly elliptical. Alice's mind freewheels from one literary reference to the next, from one horrid visit with her therapist to the next tedious tea party with the neighbors (she is to be re- institutionalized in Pughkeepsie on Wednesday, the reader learn fairly early on), somehow managing to circumvent, in spite of the wealth of words, because of the overflow of words, from what the reader believes she'd most like to know.

But I loved it. I love Alice Pinkerton.

Alice has issues. Alice has a formidable imagination that she frequently puts to use against those around her. Alice loves books and language. She is, albeit a secret one, a writer and has a writer's sensibilities. Although she is clearly out-of-step with the society around her, the depression she suffers from is due in large part to actions taken by her father years ago. The reader is free to conclude that these actions will never be mentioned in her therapy sessions and that the doctor would be nonplussed if they were.

For a large book, I read this one very fast. Next time through I'll take my time: Alice is for those with patience.

And speaking of patience, I'm making an effort to have it with Don Quixote. Sandra is no doubt finished with it already and Stefanie is probably a hundred pages at least further on than I am-I just finished the scene where Quixote and Sancho ride the wooden horse. It's been really hard for me to disengage enough from the news so that I can finish this book.

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