Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Reading

What's funny about vacation and reading on vacation is that it's supposed to be so different from the reading done during the rest of the year, and yet it isn't.

This past week, I started and finished a little novel called In the Shadow of Gotham, which purported to be one of those literary historical fiction novels and just didn't quite make it. The history in it seemed a bit thin, and the chosen time period, 1905, had very little relevance to the plot, and yet it was really very readable. Characters? I wish they'd had more emotional depth. Dialog? Stilted, although not quite as bad as what I read in another historical novel, one that was a runaway best-seller. Plot? Not quite as clever as I'd hoped. Yet, I'm not complaining. Or rather, none of these complaints stopped me from reading the book. Perhaps the only thing required of summer reading is that it can be snatched up and finished inside of 48 hours and it was. This makes me wonder what readability is made of. This book will probably be a success and I see great things in this author, who, if she can solve the problems of characterization, plot and research, will shine mightily. This might seem mean, but it isn't. These are small matters when you have readability on your side.

What's even more interesting is that my husband is now reading this book, and I keep stealing it from him, literally waiting for him to take off to make himself a sandwich so that I can quickly read a few pages. And yet it's a baseball book, and I have no use for baseball. My favorite line about televised baseball is that it's excellent background noise for napping. I've never understood the passion that some people have for it, for the history behind it. We have taken the kids to ballparks because that is a great cultural experience, one you really only need once. Jack and I used to go to Fenway once a year or so when you could still get tickets, which was some time ago. I don't understand the reverence for the players who are punks, nearly every one of them, punks in the rawest sense of the word. Ask anyone who has worked as a sportswriter and he will confirm this. And yet I crave this book. This is summer reading. It's the book you don't want to read, shouldn't read, hate reading, and frankly, can't put down.

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