I've been in a bit of a slump and as tends to happen when I am slipping and sliding downward, I have been indulging in a bit of a fiction binge. Although usually at times of family or personal drama I tend to curl up in a corner with my books, using fiction like a drug to anesthetize me from life, I have actually been rather busy with the ongoing tasks of sorting and weeding until I am too tired to sort anymore.
Michael Chabon's Summerland was entertaining and enjoyable, but I can't say that it struck much of a chord. I mostly read it on the stationary bike as I have also been trying to get myself back into an exercise routine, but I did dip into it in the evenings as well, especially when I was tired an, as has often been the case, I was frustrated with my knitting.
Unsurprisingly the prose was lovely at times, evocative and charming and I even liked the idea of the story combining as it did baseball and various creation myths, but this is where it also got difficult. At times the book seemed a bit overarching, as if Chabon had to throw in some reference to every creation story and hero myth. There were too many times where the references and the story seemed forced, perhaps not enough to destroy the novel, but enough that I was annoyed.
I followed Summerland with two of Lee Child's Reacher novels, 61 Hours and Worth Dying For. Worth Dying For is the newest one, following 61 Hours, but I read them in the opposite order. It was therefore with joy that I discovered that 61 Hours took place in the days immediately leading up to the events in Worth Dying For.
I continue to enjoy the Reacher novels and these two were no exception. Granted Reacher is unrealistic as a character, but I still like him in the context of the novels even though he is completely unlike anyone I tend to like or know in actual life. There is no slow build up to the action in Worth Dying For, we jump right in and the violence and testosterone keep boiling up to the end. But despite his basic lack of self reflection and tendency to violence, I find Reacher intriguing. There is a certain aspect of a modern day superhero or even Robin Hood to his strong principles and sense of right and wrong.
There are some interesting connections between the two novels, including two older female characters, one in each book, one of whom challenges Reacher to question some of his basic assumptions about himself, and one of whom Reacher, in turn, challenges about her own assumptions. There are interesting parallels and contrasts here, with Reacher championing the underdog (not surprising) but also perhaps attempting to redeem himself after a perceived failure in the previous novel. I am probably reading more than is there, but a book that is a quick, gripping, fun read, but which also has a little something upon which to reflect is not so bad. I continue to be hooked.
Last night there was no reading and I seem to have been at least moderately successful in my knitting. I am working on a scarf, a scarf inspired by a piece already in my closet, and I do want to finish it and wear it even though it is possible it will only see limited wear before next fall. The fact that I have been knitting the same six-inch section of scarf over and over again for a week has not helped my state of mind, although I can't honestly say if I am knitting badly because I am frustrated or if I am frustrated because I am not focusing on my knitting. I suspect it is a combination of all these things, as well as just being tired of still not having things sorted out the way I want them. I sort and toss, sort and toss, and the mountains seem to grow. I know I am making progress but it seems so endless. Perhaps an evening where I actually ripped fewer rows than I knit is a step in the right direction and a promise of good things to come. Soon enough I will have a pretty new scarf. Soon enough I will have a nifty new room of my own filled with yarn and fabric and books. Soon enough I will have my own space to create. After all it took me four years to let things build to this point, why should I expect to have conquered it all in four short months?