For the past month, my whole attention and energy seems to be absorbed by two intertwined projects, publishing a book of short stories, and setting up a new business. At the moment, there’s a bit of a lull in both, as I wait for key elements to arrive in the mail from various sources. That has given me a chance to catch up on my reading!
I finally laid to rest Caleb Carr’s The Alienist (check your local bookstore for these and the other titles). I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time. I finally picked up a used copy while passing through Juneau on my way to Gustavus at the end of August. I had a few odd moments to start it there. It has a reputation of being a real thriller, but I had no trouble putting it down—what with the sailing trip, getting the book to the printer, moose hunting, fishing, and everything else, my trouble was picking it back up again. Much of its popularity apparently comes from its loving descriptions of 19th century New York City. If you’re really into New York, you’d love it. I’m not, so I didn’t. I liked the story all right, but I was glad to get past it to better reads.
I finished it and moved on to James Howard Kunstler’s The Witch of Hebron in the nick of time. I enjoy reading seasonally, so finding that this story of life after the end of oil, a sequel to his World Made by Hand, plays out during autumn, specifically Halloween. The fact that it’s set in the upper Hudson River area, a locale shared by Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, delighted me as well. It features as a favorite story of some of the characters in the book as well.
We are now in the all-too-brief Thanksgiving season, and, quite appropriately, in my opinion, I’m moving on to what has been one of my longest-anticipated books this year, Heather Lende’s Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs.
As my thoughts turn, even more than usual, to home and family, no other book could be more appropriate. Not only that, but an overriding theme, even in the early chapters, seems to be Thanks Giving.
We, perhaps more than most American families, know a thing or two about gratitude. So does Ms. Lende, who has survived a serious auto accident and lived to tell about it—and perhaps, in a small way, to celebrate it if you will. To the point I’ve read, it’s a prayer of gratitude directed to her friends, neighbors, and family in Haines as much as to any deity.
It became a poignant moment for me to sit reading her description of what doctors had told her to expect from the tragedy. Thanksgiving music played on the cabin stereo, the heart-plucking strains of George Winston’s piece, Thanksgiving providing the perfect soundtrack. It is gripping reading, despite knowing how it “turns out.” I check Heather’s blog every day; her descriptions of her life are full of health and vigor, references to her accident are quite rare. She beat the odds, and continues to thrive here in the region we both love. That’s a lot to be thankful for.