Traveling makes for some odd experiences. It takes its toll on digestion and sleep patterns and reading habits.
Reading habits, you ask? Books are books.... they travel well.... they fit in a purse and they exist in the ether on my Kindle Fire. Why should my physical location have anything to do with that? My problem is that I never remember to take them along when I leave the hotel in the morning.
Big Cuter's apartment is a 20 minute walk downhill from the Marriott we're funding with our Reward Points. Before I was shot, I hiked it happily and easily. Now, with the hills presenting a challenge I've not faced in the flatlands of Tucson, taxicabs or Zipcars move my achy body from Union Square to the Tenderloin. It really is a dry heat in the desert; the humidity in Baghdad by the Bay is making its presence felt with every step I take here.
Leaving at 10am and returning at 10pm requires more planning than I've been able to manage this trip. I don't know why I'm so inept, but I am. Yesterday I carried three outfits in a plastic bag, but left the information I needed to complete a grant application safely in the safe in our room. Today, heading to a second opinion for my finger before meeting up with Big Cuter, I toted the information, Nellie the laptop, a sweater and my sunglasses. I left my book on the desk.
It was cloudy, we were exhausted, our bones were creaking. Cabbing to his apartment, walking across Civic Center Plaza to Morty's Deli, stopping at Walgreens for basic supplies - we were toast by 2pm. TBG took the bed, I took the love seat, Big Cuter took the recliner and we were in for the afternoon. Naps, Facebook, ESPN.....the boys were happy but I was bored. I wanted my novel. It wasn't here.
I hate starting a new book when I'm in the middle of another. I have trouble keeping the characters straight. I have to pull myself out of the bayou or the city or the mountains where the author has drawn me and rearrange my brain to accept a new terrain. I don't like it at all. Today I had no choice. Eight hours of playing Wordscraper is too much even for me. I needed a book.
Elizibeth read Hunger Games and lusts for Mockingjay and Catching Fire. I'd promised to send them to her since I remembered Big Cuter telling me he'd read the trilogy and, knowing that he's never visited the library around the corner from his building, I was certain that they were on his shelf. I was right. Katniss Everdeen is everywhere these days; when Big Cuter offered me the first in the series I couldn't refuse.
It's certainly a page turner. It reads more like a movie script than a novel. The emotions are as deep as a long shot in filtered focus.... do I love him.... will I kill him..... can I escape .... will she reveal me.... nothing requires more than a thumbs up or thumbs down. There are chaste kisses and quick, if violent, deaths which seem readily adaptable to the silver screen. No one is injured for long, no one suffers in full view, the novel is a PG-13 rating incarnate.
I didn't mind reading it. I feel full, the way I do after eating too much popcorn at the multiplex. I am ambivalent about picking up the second and the third installments; I can feel the teen angst oozing from the binding mocking me from the shelf across the room. My brain was amused. It was not engaged.
On the desk in the hotel is James Lee Burke's Feast Day of Fools. It's a page turner, too, with bad guys so awful they are almost comical, with unrequited love dripping from every page, with an ease to the language that draws you in almost without noticing. No one is in pain for very long, there's no dwelling on the torture and the violence that comes in the wake of Mexican drug cartels and Texas law enforcement. It's an easy read if that's what you're seeking.
But there is more, so very much more. Hackberry Holland, the sheriff and central character, hears things that others do not. The first time he mentions the sound of horns in the distance, Burke references Ronceveaux. If the reference is oblique, it's easily skipped. Having spent a semester considering epic heroes, I went straight to The Song of Roland and the call for help that was never sent. Hack turned, at that moment, from a law man to a deep thinker. Though I have 100 pages left until I finish, I can safely report that battling an enemy alone or with the help of others is a dominant theme of the novel.
I'm hard pressed to tell you the theme of Hunger Games, even though I've finished it.
Hunger Games is brain candy, a beach read, a not-very-challenging way of whiling away an afternoon. The story was fun, the characters memorable, the situation mildly provocative. Ultimately, there was no there there. It's not poorly written, it's simple. What bothers me is how much more Suzanne Collins could have done with it.