Monday February 25, 2013

Today the skies parted and a miracle occurred.

Klara has been a terrible napper since the day she was born. Part of the problem is that her naps are so unpredictable, but in general, you can rely on them lasting precisely 45 minutes. Now and then I’ll get lucky and get an hour and a half out of her, especially if we’re in the car. But if by some stroke of luck she does have one great nap, the other is her usual 45 minutes. Today however, for what I’m pretty sure was the first time in her (admittedly short) life, Klara had not one but two substantial naps in her crib.

This morning she woke up at 6:15. We watched the rest of the Oscars, recorded last night, together – yay for Jennifer Lawrence! Then, I put Klara down for her first nap, which lasted a miraculous 90 minutes, during which I got to nap as well. Hooray! After lunch, we caught up on “American Idol” (I really like this Kree girl), and when it was time, Klara went down for her second nap. I wasn’t that tired, so I read some of Girlchild. Forty-five minutes passed. I decided to doze a bit. An hour and a half. Finally, at around two hours, she woke up. I felt like I had just won the Mommy Olympics.

So far, Girlchild is well written but kind of just not my cup of tea.  It’s what I think of as an ugly book. It deals with subjects and uses descriptions I’d rather not think about  – in this case, pedophilia and sexual abuse. And I get that that’s part of its point – that we don’t want to think about these things and we’d rather not hear or read about them – but I think I can also decide that that’s just not my type of novel. That kind of thing doesn’t bother me – well, not to the point that I won’t read it – when reading nonfiction, but when I pick up a work of fiction, I want to be entertained. For me, that doesn’t include feeling vaguely uncomfortable and dirty. I do recognize the beauty of the writing, but I also know about myself that – and this may be surprising for an English major who became an English teacher – I don’t necessarily read or love books for their beautiful writing. I’m a plot-driven reader – I like action, even sometimes at the expense of character, as can happen with one of my favorite writers, Orson Scott Card. Sometimes, as with another favorite writer, John Irving, beautiful writing and complex characters coexist with driving plot, but writing in and of itself does not usually create a book I fall in love with. Betty Smith is a writer who manages to create books chock full of description and detail without it always furthering the plot, but her details are clear, crisp and straightforward – they come to life rather than obfuscating what she’s really saying and making my eyes cross.

This is so not where I thought this post was going. My point was that Girlchild isn’t compelling reading for me, even though I know the author’s words are creating a worthwhile portrait of a particular slice of life.