Perhaps you've noticed from the sidebar that I am actually reading a recently released novel: A. S. Byatt's The Children's Book, which so far I am liking very much. The jacket copy suggests quite a Harlequin flavor--e.g., "the passions, betrayals, and secrets that tear apart the people she loves"; "their personal struggles, their hidden desires"; "at once sweeping and intimate"--but in fact it so far seems to be an exemplary instance of what Byatt does best: mix her considerable historical and literary knowledge into a well-plotted narrative that reveals, hides, and untangles the complicated relationships among family members and friends. Sometimes I think Byatt's instructive academics can become heavy-handed, but thus far in this novel (and I'm only up to page 89) I'm happy to have her explanations, which seem to suit the style of the times (pre-World War I) and the characters (most of them Fabians, freethinkers, anarchists, storytellers . . . and, of course, their ominous children).
Friday, November 20, 2009
Back to copyediting today, and then a weekend spent cleaning barns and hauling hay and stacking firewood, and then we're on the downward slide to Thanksgiving. I will be casserole-roasting chickens because I couldn't find a decent local turkey. But that's okay. My parents, who are driving up for the holiday, don't even like meat that much, so the missing turkey matters only to my younger son, who once asked why a turkey couldn't have four drumbones instead of two. In contrast, my older son was the sort of bright-eyed three-year-old who would repetitively inquire, "Does the turkey like to be eaten?," generally when both he and his conversational victim had their mouths full of food.