I had a whirlwind week-end. After seeing Archbishop Tutu and staying up very late, we got up very early to hop on a plane to D.C.
My sister turned 40 on Saturday. At Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law suggested that we fly in for a birthday surprise. I had said that I doubted we could do it, but when I saw very cheap plane tickets, I decided it was a sign. We bought the tickets, my brother-in-law set about arranging a surprise party, and we all worked very hard at not blabbing.
It was phenomenally successful. She was completely surprised again and again. And she was remarkably able to recover from the shock and have a good time.
Then, early yesterday, we got on a plane back. It all made me feel very cosmopolitan and grown up. And tired.
How do authors do book tours? I guess they either have stronger constitutions than I do, or they get used to it, or they're not trying to hop from city to city and hold down a job.
I always feel like it takes time for all my parts of myself to catch up with me when I fly. Of course, when I drive, I'm painfully aware that all my parts of myself are with me and in great pain.
I do love having time to read. These days, the main time I read a novel is when I'm travelling. I wonder what that says about me?
I read Rebecca Newberger Goldstein's latest, 36 Arguments for the Existence of God. It's about an academic who almost accidentally writes a bestselling book that defends atheism, and it's fully of witty and profound observations about academia, religion, and relationships. Here are some nuggets:
The main character, Cass Seltzer, reflects: "Now it's all gone unforgotten, and minds that have better things to think about have to divert precious neuronal resources to figuring out how to knock some sense back into the species. It's a tiresome proposition having to take up the work of the Enlightenment all over again, but it's happened on your watch. You ought to have sent up a balloon now and then to get a read on the prevailing cognitive conditions, the Thinks watching out for the Think-Nots. Now you've gone and let the stockpiling of fallacies reach dangerous levels, and the massed weapons of illogic are threatening the survivability of the globe" (page 1).
Cass becomes famous after the publication of his book, and is surprised to find out that everyone is so much nicer to him: "If only everybody could be famous, we would all be effortlessly altruistic" (page 10).
Cass' girlfriend is extremely gifted and beautiful: "The imbalanced distribution of natural gifts seems unfair because it is; and people will always try to make things fairer by giving grief to the gifted" (page 32).
A crusty, old liberal artsy professor says, "What are the so-called exact sciences but the failure of metaphor and metonymy?" (page 171).
These quotes only give a sense of the wonderfulness of the characters, the exquisiteness of the descriptions, the movement of the plot, and the delight of the reading experience.
Now, back to my regular life. I must spend some time today trying to remember what poems I had planned to write. I must think about the grocery store. I should do some laundry. I'll think longingly of all the works of fiction that wait for me to read them.
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