I finished the latest Didion in my quest to read every single thing every written by both Atwood and Didion, many many months ago. But I just haven’t gotten around to talking about it. Play It As It Lays is a short read, but a complicated, messy read. It’s about what happens when you don’t know who you are, but you get famous anyway. And that celebrity and success occurs for no particular reason. And all of your self worth and understanding of who you are has to do with how others see you. So when you finally wake up from the sort of dreamworld you’ve been living in, it’s all suddenly very real, too real, and suddenly surreal. It’s about other things too, the infantilizing of women, the constant double standard that women must forever be young and beautiful, and men get to just be. It’s about motherhood and sexuality and a loss of self. But mostly, I think, it’s about identity. This kind of book leaves me feeling woozy. I get too caught up in the characters and I start feeling crazy. I feel this way with Hemingway as well. I get a kind of mental illness while reading these books, a fog starts to from around my brain and it’s as if I’ve woken prematurely from a nap that was too deep. I have a hard time shaking it all off.
There’s also a very bad abortion scene that spans many many pages in Play It As It Lays. And if you know me in real life, you know that blood, especially a lot of blood or injury to any aspect of the lady parts, pretty much sends me straight to the floor. Or squirming in bed next to Kamel while reading at night and begging him to talk to me so I can stop thinking about it and not pass out. Yes. This life of mine is quite glamorous.
I read Penelopiad in about 2 days on the train. It’s Atwood’s totally modern and amazing take on the Odyssey, from his wife’s perspective. One of you had mentioned I should read it in the big books suggestion post (and little did you know I was already reading it!). This is one of those books that definitely makes you think, that questions the myths we take for granted, that is poetic and thoughtful and all of that. But! It’s also entertaining and funny and irreverent.
There is something so incredibly satisfying when we treat myths like gossip. I feel like it breaths new life into old stories, it gives them a little bit of edge. And tell me it’s not totally satisfying to call Helen of Troy a total bitch. In literature. I mean… what more could a true word nerd want out of life? Really.
Now then, as I am busting through the awesome reading list I gathered from all of you well read, lovely people (currently on the Goon Squad and already finished America Pacifica). Now, I want to know: What are you reading currently? Are you reading anything from my list that you all created? How is the world of books? Make sure to take notes on anything you enjoy – in a few months I promise there will be a big pay-off from me if you do (hint hint, giveaway forthcoming, hint). So read! Gobble it all up! How are you finding time (or not finding time!) to read?
I call the Better In Real Life book club to order. Let’s discuss.