eglantine_br (eglantine_br) wrote,

Fallen behind on the books for December

December is a great month to read. There are always blocks of time when you cannot rush around, when you are poised in between one task or another, when you are waiting to be called, when you are on the train. And there is little temptation to just go outdoors and bask, as one might in the summer. Snow is pretty, but the wind here is damp and vicious.

So i did a lot of reading.

I told you guys about the first few books. Since then:

The Book Of Dust-- Philip Pullman

This is a prequel to the Dark Materials. It features another protag, a boy this time. It was a quick read, more of a real adventure story i thought. Many of the same people in it, and Lyra and her daemon as babies. It was fun to read, I think I finished it in two nights. It felt less deeply symbolic to me, although i am sure that someone with more training would see many references that I missed. There was a great big flood.

Like everyone who read these books, I am enchanted by the idea of the daemon and badly want my own.

A Thousand Naked Strangers--Kevin Hazzard

Many years back I thought i would go into emergency medicine. I trained as an EMT. I was completely qualified to work in Connecticut, and then was sidelined by a complicated pregnancy. After that, to my vast relief there was an actual baby and I never went back to work.

That is fine, but i do like to read about the experiences I might have had. This book was a collection of memories of a man who was a paramedic in Atlanta in the 1990's. He describes his experiences with the ambulance, with different partners, with the seemingly endless people who needed his help. The book moves forward in time, so we come along as he grows more confident and capable.

Atlanta during these years went through tremendous upheaval. There was a real estate boom and, for a time, job growth to rival anywhere in the world. Atlanta in the 90's was not just hot, it was cool. Of course the wave did not lift everyone. The waves never do. And then the crash came. Jobs gone, homes foreclosed, hopes gone, health insurance gone, make-do run out. These things are relevant to an ambulance crew.

I like the book, and any book about medicine, no matter how old, remains fresh. The people who set out to fix others seem to me to be the same across centuries, decades are nothing.

Boy--Roald Dahl

I had never read anything he wrote for adults. In fact the writing is almost as childishly direct as that in Matilda. But this is not a kids book, or not really. Retrospective looks at childhood are mostly wasted on kids. He looks back on the confusion felt by an intelligent child surrounded by the weird inflexible rules of adults. Some rules are stated up front, some you only learn after you have broken them. Because he lives in the 1920's he gets beaten a lot. It is horrible to read about. There is also a scene where he has his adenoids out at the kitchen table, sitting up, wide awake. There is also lovely boating in Norway.

This is one of those books of long ago, where everyone is sort of improbably good at everything. You wonder to yourself, did everyone back then really know how to sew themselves an evening dress, and build an ocean-going raft, and you feel bad about your own skills. (Not that he did those particular things, but you know what I mean,) but I think that they actually could, and did. I tell myself we have other good qualities, but I wonder...

So December has run out, and the old year is done, pretty much. Daughter has gone to rural Pennsylvania to visit friends. Rest of us will be quiet at home this weekend. None of us will be unwise enough to go anywhere near Manhattan. (I have a friend who went, when she first moved here, to Times Square. She got wedged in the crowd for 5 hours. Once you are there they will not let you leave. Some guy pissed on her leg.)

See you all on the other side.
Tags: books, family, real life

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