Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Battery-Operated Christmas Trees, Indies & Part of Another List

As many of you know, I am half-facetiously playing the role of a '60s housewife this month. My struggle against Christmas depression and general seasonal affective disorder has comprised cleaning house and reading '60s novels by Rumer Godden, Pamela Frankau, K. M. Peyton, Elizabeth Goudge, and others. A constant clearing of table surfaces, all the lights in the house kept on all the time, and the purchase of a few Christmas decorations have kept those dark existential thoughts at bay. But I haven't quite been able to stay in the '60s, as there has been an earth-shattering advance in Christmas decorations, especially the TINY CHRISTMAS TREES from Target. If you pry open the base and insert batteries, TINY LIGHTS STRUNG AROUND THE TREES WILL LIGHT UP AND CHANGE COLORS. There were no directions, however, and it was like sovling a Rubik's cube to unravel the mystery. We had to pry off the base with a knife! It’s not like we’re engineers or anything (that’s a joke, because one of us is) but these things weren't on sale for nothing.

Meanwhile, I’m continuing to read and enjoy Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, her lively novelistic chronicle of a Baptist family in the Congo in 1959. While Nathan, the chauvinistic minister, smugly believes he is converting the "heathen," his wife, Orleanna, and their four daughters, Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May, more realistically and humanely interpret the culture through their daily interactions with people. As the Congo declares independence from Belgium in 1960 and other whites flee from the chaotic country, Nathan ignores the needs of his family, and of one very sick child, and insists on remaining without the Mission's salary. Narrated by the women of the family, mainly the daughters, the brilliant novel is tragicomic, moving, lyrical, and lightened by the children's malapropisms.

By the way, my husband mentioned that he read my blog (not a habit!) and understands that I want Kingsolver’s new book. So we’re going to walk up to the independent bookstore tomorrow. Usually this is not a good experience, because I have been followed suspiciously around the tiny space and generally treated like an intruder, but the other day when I was looking for a certain book for my spouse, the clerk was really nice and actually hunted down the title from some unpromising vague clues. Either she’s new, or I looked more normal in my snow-clomping clothes than my bicycling clothes (I don't think they care for the sweaty look). Anyway, now I feel I can support the store for the season.

AND NOW: Here’s a part of my Best of the Decade list (2000-2004). Just what you need: another list!


Zadie Smith’s White Teeth

Romola by George Eliot


Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina by David Hughes


The Seven Sisters by Margaret Drabble

In Sunlight, In a Beautiful Garden by Kathleen Cambor

A Whistling Woman by A. S. Byatt


The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard

None Shall Look Back by Caroline Gordon

The Empty Mirror: Experiences in a Japanese Zen Monastery by Janwillem Van de Wetering


Long for This World by Michael Byers

Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

The Best Awful by Carrie Fisher

Aloft by Chang-rae Lee

Don’t Tell Alfred by Nancy Mitford


Vintage Reading said...

Glad you are enjoying The Poisonwood Bible. If you've not already purchased The Lacuna please have my copy as a freebie. It's never going to be read otherwise! (If you're happy to send me an address I'll mail it to you). Nicola

Frisbee said...

That's so kind of you, but I got it for Christmas! I read The Poisonwood Bible because of your blog. You're right, it's so good. I'll get to The Lacuna one of these days. Overall people have not liked it as much. Thank you so much for the offer.