Terry Pratchett died. I cried silently in bed, wrapped in blankets and the early morning haze. I sent a text message to my oldest friend, who shares a love of Discworld with her father. We talked about how Sir Terry passed and I thought of an old blog post I’d written about him and Neil Gaiman. Later that week, I bought his non-fiction collection A Slip of the Keyboard, wanting to hang on to more of his words.
I read the rest of Lev Grossman’s Magicians Trilogy, which made me think about my own growing pains. The second of the series, The Magician King, marked my return to reading after the desert that was February. I realized long ago that fantasy novels help me regain my reading mojo. The heft of these tomes anchor my wandering attention span, preparing me for the relatively long-term (in this day and age) commitment of finishing a book.
After Magicians, I read Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin. Sarrazin was a French-Algerian writer, a storm of a woman who wrote two novels while serving time for armed robbery. Astragal is about a prison break and all the hiding that ensues. A young woman named Anne escapes prison by climbing over the compound’s wall and, in the process, falls and breaks her ankle – the astragalus bone. She meets a kindred spirit named Julien who helps her and the two fall in love. Patti Smith wrote the foreword to this new reprint of the novel, saying how Albertine and “her luminous eyes led [Smith] through the darkness of her youth.” So it was that I came to read Smith’s Just Kids, the story of her life with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe in New York City around the late 60’s and 70’s. The prose was an absolute delight, poetic but not too flowery, honest but somehow still nostalgic. One reviewer remarks on how Smith managed to maintain an air of innocence throughout the memoir and I agree. They were, after all, just kids.
So, all for now wombats. I’m looking forward to the promise of summer reading. I’ve got the rest of the Outlander series to work on for the next couple of months (Happy Outlander Day!), as well as a few essay and short story collections. What are your summer reading plans?