the secret history

I have been trying to distract myself this week. I managed to do a rather impressive job of it by perusing my to-read shelf and choosing The Secret History by Donna Tartt for no particular reason beyond the fact that it was on the top of the pile.

I fell into this book hard and did not want to come out of it. Spent the better part of the last two days curled up reading, letting cups of tea go cold nearby.

I’m not sure why I hadn’t read it before. I’ve been aware of it for years, I think I even flipped through it in a bookstore more than five years ago. I bought a copy a couple of months back and added it to the to-read shelf. Maybe it was waiting around for me to be able to give it my full and rapt attention.

I loved it, really. For two main reasons.

One: I’m a sucker for a good, interesting mystery that isn’t self-conscious about being mysterious. That likely makes no sense but just the idea of a murder mystery where you know the victim and the murderer from page one makes me happy, where the mystery is in the details and not the broad strokes of the crime.

And two: I went to a small, New England college. Certain sequences and details reminded me very much of Smith. Even the weather was beautifully familiar. Memories of classes studying Greek theatre I’d all but forgotten brimmed to the surface of my oft-senile brain. In a way, it’s evocative of my own collegiate experience, but pushed to extremes and placed in a blender with a Greek tragedy. Whipped up on high volume to a frothy Bacchanalian frenzy.

I can see how this can be a mixed-reaction book. I’m still not entirely sure I found the epilogue satisfying, but then I’m not entirely sure it was meant to be satisfying at all, really.

It earned a spot on my tier of most favoritest books quicker than anything I’ve read in quite awhile, that’s for sure.

books & links

I am in more of a reading mode than a writing mode lately, though I am attempting to switch back and forth. Reading often puts me in a writing mood, which is helpful.

This is my current reading pile, more or less. I have some random nonfiction things floating around but this is the fiction stack, all in various levels of just finished, mid-way through or haven’t started yet. It is both YA heavy and entirely female authored, huzzah.

Here, links and info since books are fun to press on other people. From bottom of pile to top which is essentially in no particular order:

  • The Season by Sarah MacLean. I stumbled upon this by accident, through the wonders of the internet. I actually knew Sarah when we were both at Smith, oddly enough. I found her through a collection of Smith Alum blogs and picked up her book shortly thereafter. I just finished it last night, it’s a lovely, frothy Regency era romance meets murder mystery with a wonderful, spunky heroine. I’m happy to have found it, and Sarah again, through the wonderment that is the internet.
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. I’ve wanted to read this since I first saw the cover over on the Absolute Write forums months ago. Yes, I do judge my books by their covers, but only when they also have excellent titles and zombies. Haven’t started it yet, but am very much looking forward to it.
  • Stranger Things Happen by Kelly Link. I am almost finished with this one, I have a few more stories to go. I’ve been savoring them, like a box of fantastically oddly flavored chocolates. This is my second Link collection (I read and loved Pretty Monsters a few months ago) and I really love her stories. She apparently teaches short story writing at Smith, too. Wish she’d been teaching when I was there.
  • The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King. I found this one through Sarah’s blog, and was sold on the cover blurb alone (and the cover itself didn’t hurt) because, you know, pirates. Haven’t started it yet, either. May have to have a pirates vs. zombies imaginary death match to figure out which to start next. (Do zombies win by default, being undead and all?)
  • Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente. I’ve mentioned Cat before here, there & everywhere, of course. I’m only a few chapters into Palimpsest and taking my time with it, not quite in the same chocolate-savoring way but more like wading slowly into it, letting myself adjust to the water before it inevitably pulls me under.

The ampersand I found in the clearance corner at Pottery Barn this weekend. I may paint it, though the orange is growing on me. It is also begging to be photographed in the wild, combining all manner of unsuspecting subjects.

Am mostly drinking tea and trying to write, now that I have my painting obligations out of the way. I’d ideally wanted to finish my edits by the end of the month, which now seems unlikely. But I needed some mulling time, and it’s spring and there’s a new moon in a few days, so it is probably a good time to be getting things done.