I’ve read a few books lately and haven’t written about them yet. The first was Nadine Gordimer’s Loot And Other Stories. I’d only read a few of her stories before this, and none of her novels, but I certainly will after this. I especially liked the more abstract first and last stories — the first (and title) story is metaphorical, about a sudden recession of the ocean and the looting of its treasures. It’s really beautiful, and strange that the book was published a few months before the tsunami. The final story, “Karma,” is told from the perspective of a soul and several lives it inhabits, all in South Africa. Again, beautiful. I’m looking forward to some more of Ms. Gordimer in the near future — thanks, Barrett, for letting me borrow The Pickup. (I should add that the cover of Loot is a Georgia O’Keeffe painting, and the cover of The Pickup is an Alexander Calder work — that probably matters very little, but in case you judge books by their covers, you should know).
The second book is also about South Africa: Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country. I borrowed it from Kavi because she was talking about it one day, specifically a character in the book who, when thanked for her generosity and kindness, says, “Why else do we live?” That line alone brought some tears to my eyes, and there were more to come when I read the whole book. On the surface, it’s about a Zulu pastor who travels to Johannesburg in hopes of reuniting his family, and the hardships he encounters there. A little deeper, it’s about the political atmosphere in South Africa at the time (1940s or so). But at its most basic (or maybe most complex), the book is about humanity — the way we treat each other, and why. It’s really lyrical and hopeful, also sad, but definitely worth picking up if you haven’t (I see now that it was selected for Oprah’s Book Club).
Currently I’m reading Nick Hornby’s A Long Way Down, which has moments that are raw and sad, and others that are really hilarious. My favorite line so far is a little shout-out to my favorite poet — this obnoxious, uneducated character says something like, “Someone should write a song or a poem or something that says, ‘They fuck you up, your mum and dad.'” Which, of course, someone has (Philip Larkin). It makes me wonder how many other little allusions I’m missing. Anyway, the premise of this book is that four people meet on top of a tall building they all plan to jump off of on New Year’s Eve. I feel like saying any more than that will spoil the book… I’ll probably finish it tonight.
All of that said (and if you’ve actually read this far), I’m looking for my next book. I want something beautiful, hopeful, maybe even happy. I want it to be written by someone who says wise things about life and love. Any suggestions?
In other news: it’s Day 7 of the cleanse, and it’s going well. Debated buying a juicer this weekend, but decided it was probably more economical right now to buy juices at Wild Oats instead (if it were just the labor involved, that would be one thing, but the $3-$4 juices also include a lot of vegetables — quite possibly more than $3 worth per juice — so it’s just going to be a little bit of a pain buying several a day, but not as expensive as buying a juicer and all of the vegetables). I got a little upset last night, and it was good, in a way, not to have the usual comfort food/alcohol to turn to. Because comfort food and alcohol don’t really fix much. I did want it, though. Today I’m down to fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Tomorrow I lose nuts and seeds (except almond milk, which is new for me, and pretty good), but I’ve kind of overdone the cashews in the past few days, so I’m ready for it.