There's nothing like curling up with a book on a snowy night. And last night I started reading a new book. B and I always read for a while before we go to sleep, sometimes only for ten minutes, other times for half an hour or more. But we both find that reading a book is absolutely the best way to fall asleep.
But last night I was having a bit of trouble -- not falling asleep. Something else. Let me explain.
|"What's that white stuff?" asks our fall scarecrow.|
The book is The Burn Palace, a novel by Stephen Dobyns. I'd never heard of this writer before, but he's written a couple of dozen books, so he's not exactly new. The book is a mystery that takes place in Rhode Island, and the problem is: I did not like this book at all. I got through to about page 200 before I thought about giving up on it completely. Then I thought, well, I'm halfway through, so I should finish it. Besides, Peter's going to want to know what I think, and I can't tell him if I don't even know what happens at the end.
So I plowed on, day after day -- because I find that if you don't like a book it takes a lot longer to read. I felt like I was doing homework the whole time. But I'll be seeing Peter tonight at our monthly poker game, and I know he'll ask me about the book, so I had a deadline.
I dutifully went back to the book, over and over, reading maybe 20 pages at a time before giving up again. Finally, on Wednesday, I forced myself to finish it. Done! But then, I thought, why do I feel like I have to finish a book if I don't like it? And what am I going to tell Peter (who obviously liked the book)?
So anyway, last night I joyfully picked up another book. This time I wanted one I would actually like. I grabbed In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O'Brien, which was sitting on my son's bedroom bureau. It has an intriguing cover -- and I thought I'd read something by Tim O'Brien before, and liked it.
I went into the bathroom, washed up, brushed my teeth, then slipped into bed. I showed the book to B. "Have you ever read this one?" I asked.
|At least this one I will enjoy|
"Is it any good? I need something that will really hold my attention, something I can get lost in."
"That should work," she replied. "It's a really riveting book."
"I think I read something by Tim O'Brien before. Something about Vietnam, maybe?"
"He had that other bestseller," she said. "I don't remember the name."
I looked at the book cover. "It says he also wrote Going After Cacciato and The Things They Carried."
"The Things They Carried. I think that was on Vietnam. A big bestseller."
So I opened the book and started reading. And . . . wait a second, this seems familiar. John Wade and his wife Kathy are on vacation in Lake of the Woods, Minnesota. Wade has just lost the primary election for U. S. senator: "loser by a landslide" at age 41. Then there was a section called "Evidence" and his mother says, "He was always a secretive boy." And by about page 10, I realized I'd read the book before, only a couple of years ago.
I don't know if that's ever happened to you. But boy, did that make me feel stupid.
And yet, by now I had started the book. So I have to finish it!