#OnTheSurface #NightstandChronicleThree


I am back to finding solace in the Carlsbad Library, although I’m a hell of a lot more selective these days. If any of my readers are listeners of NPR’s Fresh Air, you will be familiar with one of its contributors, Maureen Corrigan, whose day job is as a professor at Fordham University and University of Pennsylvania and, recently, Georgetown University. Since she has that academic bent, I have been somewhat inspired to take a course from her of my own devising, a course of her recommendations on Fresh Air, like a literature course in college. I love the loaded, rich prose of her reviews, and, given the vastness of the literary world, I tend to go by her notes or the notes of Oprah’s book pages in her magazine…makes decisions far less paralyzing.
So, as you can see from the picture, I am still on a selection from last month recommended by Corrigan, the Waters novel “The Paying Guests.” (It’s over 500 pages, after all.) I think the library book was a Corrigan recommendation as well–I’m sure it’s something easily Google-able–but I saw it on the shelf in the new releases and snatched it more for the timeliness of the release of Lee’s second book. I tend to steer clear of non-fiction these days (real life is miserable enough, so I tend to prefer novels), but the Lee memoir is giving me a kind of “loneliness relief,” like reading an indulgent letter from an old friend who can talk books and Mets games and be flexible enough to share Manhattan AND rural Alabama with me. I believe Michener once claimed the world as his home, and Nelle Harper Lee seems to do the same, with no judgment of different places, only different times. If it weren’t for the heat, and rattlesnakes, I’d be jealous of the author’s gig.
As to Waters’s novel, I don’t know how much to say without people from the flyover states getting too suspicious as to how and why I like this novel so much. There’s a lot to love in this satisfyingly large story, including the simple prose and the gentle nosing forward of the plot. It’s also probably the best-written account of everything that one lays on the line to fall in love. I’ll stop there.
The Kindle holds the usual–New Yorker magazines full of Morrison, Murakami, and the better angels at Aetna, paying for a fair wage to its employees. New Yorker articles can crush me or validate me in the span of a page, and I’ll never shake that magazine. More ventures into loneliness avoidance (is it the good writing? Like we all speak the same language?). It’s either The New Yorker magazine or more drinking–my liver probably prefers the magazine.
There is also the drawing out of Ford’s “The Sportswriter” on that Kindle, “A Year of Writing Dangerously” (my literary daily devotional), “The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty” and “Outline” (more Corrigan recs). There aren’t enough hours in the day, people; reading, writing, cooking and cleaning for the family, and working a job that I wish were meaningful in some way. But I keep the novels stacked high, a fort of a child-like mind, hoping to one day put my own brick or balustrade in there, and start doing what I love for a living on and off the clock.