I’m still alive. I’ve been sick for almost a month, but I think I finally felt the flu virus loosen its cold, dead grasp on my innards this past Monday. I am definitely not myself yet but I can, without an exaggerated amount of effort, stay awake all day now. I am getting some work done, though I still tire easily and want to mostly just curl up with a novel.
Make that another novel. I’ve been getting some good sickbed reading in, the highest point being Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. Oh my stars and stockings, what a damned fine novel. The best this year so far; one of the best of my life. Why? I don’t know. I was rather foggy when I was reading it, but it felt like it was changing the neural pathways in my brain. In a good way, obviously. It made me want to talk loudly and gesture enthusiastically about capital-N novels and capital-L literature. And the best part is that I still have Fathers and Sons to look forward to–because I’ll obviously have to re-read it at some future, more lucid, less virus-ridden date.
Evelyn Waugh’s Men at Arms and Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting also provided profound–if profoundly different–hours of novelistic pleasure and distraction. Waugh continues to be demented (not, not from beyond the grave; I mean, I continue to be pleasantly struck by what a twisted view of humanity he possessed).
Stewart, like Waugh, writes brilliantly; she also continues to offer up male romantic leads that I think I’m meant to fall at least half in love with, but which I don’t fall in love with at all because they are jerks and like their women limp and submissive (except when they’re not, but when they’re not is generally in some “angel in the house, let me protect this child at all costs” sort of way). Three Stewart romances have shown me her Formula, which includes the above as well as the absolute certainty that if the female protagonist falls in love with someone, you can be sure he is not guilty of what he really very much seems guilty of–except maybe of loving her too much to be nice; Stewart’s heroes are always guilty of that. I don’t entirely mind this because Stewart was such a fine stylist; but it’s not to the advantage of the plot-driven novel when the plot is clearly detectable within the first 50 pages (and never mind gender equality). Yes, I will read The Ivy Tree and The Moonspinners, and I daresay I’ll enjoy them. I’m not too proud to sometimes intentionally choose enjoyable over good.
The only other thing I can say about the last month, in part because I barely remember it, is that besides being in a fog and/or fever and reading some novels, I’ve been more than usually obsessed with all things weather-related. I have been reading multiple news articles every day about the snow on the east coast; I talk about it constantly. Which makes it official: I am boring. I’m going to try not to blog again until I have the energy to pretend to be extremely fascinating.