Since I keep one book on the nightstand and another in my car CD player, I rarely finish both at once. Last week, though, I finished The Well and the Mine at the same time I reached the end of The Anansi Boys. I felt almost lost--and extremely frustrated--as I faced that best of all questions: What next?
Right now (as always) I have an overwhelming "must read" stack. Barbara Kingsolver's Lacuna is calling, and I just read that it was nominated for the PEN/Faulkner award. I have several good possibilities from my Lemuria First Editions Book Club. For my next book club meeting, I have The Elegance of the Hedgehog and Sweeping up Glass waiting.
On a whim, I started a nonfiction work, The Forger's Spell by Edward Dolnick. This book follows all the parties involved in the huge hoax involving a fake Vermeer and the ruthless art collecting of Goering and Hitler. I've been a Vermeer fan for years (although I'd never be so arrogant as to expect to be able to buy one--or forge one.) Even the footnotes of the book are fascinating (although I had to figure out how to move from the text to the footnotes and back on my Sony Reader.
In the car, I am listening to Falling Man by Don DeLillo, set in New York City in the days following 9/11. This couldn't be less like the Dolnick book. I've only read one of DeLillo's novels before--Underworld--although I've been meaning to read White Noise for years. The main characters are Keith, a man who escaped the burning towers, his estranged wife Lianne, at whose door he showed up, injured and covered in soot, their son, and her mother.
I find myself drawn to stories surrounding that horrible September day and the people affected by it. Joyce Maynard wrote a young adult novel The Usual Rules. (I gave my signed copy to a high school student who had borrowed it and while reading it found her family was moving back to Mexico. She came by my classroom to return the book and tell me goodbye. I just couldn't take it.) I also loved Jonathan Safron Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Near, about a young boy whose father was in the towers when they fell and whose grandparents are Holocaust survivors. It was a quirky, fascinating novel I couldn't wait to pass along.
I'll admit that I sometimes fantasize about a job like the one of Robert Redford's character in Three Days of the Condor--reading books for a living. I wouldn't even mind having to read closely for subversive government plots. Just let me read.