Saturday, May 16, 2009

WHAT TO READ?

I like to read before I close my eyes for the night. Get involved with someone else's life, temporarily leave my own.

I've been re-reading some of my Robert Parker mysteries, and I'm very much involved the second time around. Was I skipping the first time I read the book?

Possibly -- I don't read word by word, except when I've got error messages, and have to study a computer manual. In Winnetka, Illinois, 1st grade, 2nd, and 3rd, I was taught speed-reading, along with writing (printing), arithmetic, and sex things, in a class called "How Humans Reproduce." It was this wonderful progressive education that made me a misfit when we moved to Harrisburg, where my teachers didn't like the fact that I couldn't write in cursive longhand, and I annoyed my classmates with the big words, sometimes "wicked" words I liked to use.

After a dozen Parker's, I'm currently re-reading Scott Turrow's "Personal Injuries," that I'd read when I was commuting between NY and Malibu, distracted with moving back to NY, and list-making for the moving van guys. We'd lived in Malibu while JC was doing a TV series; returned to NY while he was doing the musical, "Urinetown." (Performers go where the action is, and Broadway is a better place for JC the actor, who's done many leading roles in plays and musicals.)

Finishing the Turrow book as the plane landed back in NY, I remember the ending was powerful, but I couldn't have said what the plot was about, not till now, reading it again.

Turrow has a knife-cutting ability to get to the soul of a character, to describe pain, passion, emotion, fear. What a perfect book to re-discover, right now, when I'm writing, writing, writing. If I were working on a novel, I'd be researching, doing think-writing, leisurely outlining, leisurely jotting down random ideas.

Posting for a blog is night and day different. You're writing a small essay with a beginning, middle, and some kind of finish. Doing one every day -- whew! I'm not sure I can keep on doing it, but I'm doing it -- finding it's revving me up to keep going, write more, and more.

So Turrow is my buddy , a great companion now. I am reading only 4 or 5 pages a night. Trying not to speed-read. The moment I realize I'm skipping words, I stop.

When I finish the Turrow, I've got a batch of Elmore Leonard books I've picked out to re-read -- quirky leading men, complicated crimes, robberies, killings, by guys who've been in jail. Got a couple of months' supply lined up. And then ... Who? What?

Picking a new writer to keep me company at night is ... well, it's not like picking a lover. I'm going to be very reserved, cautious when I get a recommendation from a friend. And very skeptical -- reading a sample, 10 -20 pages at least, before making a commitment.

Want to hear something odd? I shy away from women writers, romances, female heroines. Being me, a soul-searcher with a tough, mean eye on myself for phoniness, falsity, and B.S, I wonder if it's competitiveness, some form of female prejudice, but I'm turning off the thoughts. I have to keep away from feminine ideas, a female's point of view, keep my distance from ME when I'm trying to read myself into slumber-land.

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