Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cover to Cover

New to The Burrow and looking for my take on the events of  January 8th?  Read the previous few posts and you'll see where I am and how I'm feeling.
For now, though, I need a break from the drama.
Here is the post I planned to publish on January 10th 
I started that Greg Iles book yesterday.  You know, the one that's been lurking on my sidebar since before Christmas, the one that I knew I wouldn't be able to put down once I opened it.  I hadn't read the blurb on the inside cover; I knew I would love it no matter where he set the story or what the characters were doing.  And I did. 

I brought it with me to the talk I led at the suburban library on Tasks in the Garden for January.  Arriving early, as usual, I thought I'd pass the time by teasing myself with a few opening pages.  But there was a patron, a listener, an audience member and he was standing in the doorway wondering if this was the right place.  Once he determined that he wasn't lost, all hope for a quiet 20-some minutes of joining Mr. Iles in his vaguely paranoiac wonderland had vanished.  As long as I'm here, may I ask you...took us through fertilizers and soil structure and the dangers of amending the dirt in the hole when you plant a tree*

Once the auditorium had filled and emptied, once the information had been imparted and questions had been answered (no, I know nothing about roses or turf, those gorgeous but inappropriate for this environment difficult to maintain endeavors) I drove home and opened the book.

TBG came and went.  It made no difference to me.  Dinner time passed.  I wasn't hungry.  There were half-finished bottles of water on the table beside me, and it seems that I drank them as I was reading, but I really couldn't tell you when that happened.  I was in DC and White Sands, NM and Jerusalem with David and his girlfriend and I was worrying about the machine that was going to take over the world; food and drink here in reality were less important than whether or not the characters would live to see the morning.  There were assassins and scientists and thoughts of God keeping me glued to my seat, turning page after page.  It got dark.  I read on. I turned on more lights and ate a container of yogurt and kept reading.  My eyes began to blur, so I added my glasses to my face but I couldn't stop.  I was treating myself to finishing this book in one sitting and I was loving every minute of it.

By 10pm I was spent.  Broken.  Bleary eyed.  Starving.  TBG was in his jammies and in no mood to venture out into the cold so I took myself to I-Hop with the last 40 pages.  I needed someplace with comfort food and good lighting and a safe parking lot.  Turns out that there's an all you can eat pancake special going on in your neighborhood International House of Pancakes and they are very very proud of it.  The stack arrived, 5 high with 2 scoops of butter, and I poured syrup and forked batter and kept on reading.  I was truly torn. The story was winding down.... would they live..... would the Eastern Seaboard of the USofA survive..... did she love him.... but the pancakes were warm and fluffy and each bite was better than the next.  I sat and ate and read for as long as I could, but when the check came I still had 15 pages left. 

The answers to my questions were in those 15 pages and the traffic gods must have felt my urgency because I made all the lights coming across Cortaro Farms Road which turns into Magee Road without so much as by your leave (I've always wanted to type that sentence.... thanks for reading it!) and made it back to my comfy space in no time at all.  Refreshed by the cold night air and replenished by the carbs, I made short shrift of the last few chapters. 

I'd spent the day without electronic enhancements.  Ira Flatow couldn't entice me to listen to SciFri on the radio.  I felt no need for a musical background.  I was totally into that book.  It was as much a physical experience as an intellectual exercise.  The characters were present in my personal space and, because Iles tells his stories in a minute-by-minute fashion, it seemed as though we were all going through it together.

It's not often that such an opportunity presents itself.  Life has a habit of interfering with more sedentary pursuits.  But if you ever have the chance, if you have a day without anything on the calendar, if you can carve out a space for yourself and have an author who won't disappoint, I am here to tell you that spending a day with one book from cover to cover will put a smile on your face.

It did for me.
*Quick note to gardeners in the desert southwest - if you feed the roots of the newly planted tree with delightfully delicious amended soil they will never want to spread out and explore the territory surrounding the trunk.  The tree will become root bound and is likely to topple over in the first strong wind.  If they are going to survive in our environment they have to get used to the dirt when they are young.


  1. Now that's a good day. Been a long time since I found a book I wanted to read in one day. I guess I'm getting jaded in my old age. :)

  2. "Life has a habit of interfering with more sedentary pursuits"... this holds much meaning after the events that followed. I was wondering if your Mother was aware of the shooting? My Mom is in the later stages of the disease and we protect her from anything disturbing. For the most part she is very content and the panic that used to be a part of her life is gone.

  3. ... and now I yearn for a day like that day. Just me and a really good read. BTW-- I spent several years teaching those classes at the local library and coordinating the Master Gardeners volunteer phone lines. We have a lot in common!

  4. I was breathless just reading your post. I have done that exact same thing several times. My days are not as busy as yours. Only problem with having a nice reading day like that is the empty feeling one gets when finished. It's like losing a great friend. An empty feeling. And you don't pick up another book until the feeling is gone. And when you do, it's an easy read. Something to fill the space until your next Super Book! ...debbie

  5. I can only spend a day like that, completely immersed in a book, if it's raining and cold outside. There's nothing like the woodstove cranked up and a book that creates its own world.

    I was struck by the "good lighting and safe parking lot" sentence.

  6. Best description I have ever read of what it is like to get lost in the pages of a book. I've been there. I've done it. But I've never found the right words to describe it. Beautifully done, Suzi.

  7. Oh, you are a woman after my own heart! I'll have to check out that book...

    When I went through surgery, chemo and radiation for colon cancer 12 years ago, reading saved me. And no, I stopped reading books on healing and stories of other cancer survivors after about a week. I "met" some of favorite authors during that year!

  8. Never read a single thing by Greg Iles. I'll have to look into him now, though!

    For a few days last year after The Missus gave me the Kindle for my birthday, she and The Pooch were strangely, respectfully remote. I plowed through something like the first four books in the space of a couple of weeks, and then crashed into the wall on which some wag had spray-painted REAL LIFE (as if I couldn't see that much for myself). But I love unbroken reading stretches like that. It reminds me of being a kid, sick in bed (with one of those ailments -- mumps, measles, chicken pox -- which, alas, do not afflict adults), and reading something like Tolkien's trilogy for the first time.

    And as someone above said, the real world seems a little less real after you close the book.

    In a former life I had a tree man working for me. Charlie. Hired him on the spot when he diagnosed a crimson king maple on my property thusly: "It has a girdling root. The root doesn't grow out but around the trunk, strangling the tree, relentlessly." I didn't even care if he was right. Any guy who could teach me a phrase like "girdling root" and use the word "relentlessly" without blushing was a guy I wanted on the household payroll.

    (He was right, though.)

  9. I haven't had a book affect me that way since...well, I can't think when it last happened, but it might had been a P.D.James mystery. Until Stieg Larsson's Millenium series. Which infuriated me, to be honest, because it was more like a kidnapping than a pleasure. I was pretty sure, after about halfway into the first novel, that I didn't really want to need to know more, but I had a bad case of the Can't Help Its.

    Pancakes with butter, syrup, and a bad case of the Can't Help Its? Defines decadence.

    But, hey, no chocolate?

  10. Oh my gosh, I was just thinking all that was missing was a big giant plate of your brownies! I love that you took a day to plow through a book; it's pretty exhilarating, isn't it? I haven't done that in awhile but need to. With your brownies, of course.

  11. I do so love my readers... so many of whom are readers themselves. Funny how we've found each other, isn't it?

    I'm finding that reading is helping me escape from the sad that is creeping around the edges of my life these days. With the pain meds my concentration is limited, but Billy Collins has been keeping me sane and I am forever grateful.

  12. I found your blog from reading a news article about you. I wanted to say I love how your mind works, and the t.v. interviews I have seen with you and your husband showed two people full of grace. I had tears in my eyes when I saw your interview and you spoke about your experience that has thrust you into such public view.

    I hope the pain subsides for you, physically and mentally and your life can get back to some sense of "normal" for you.

    With much love and healing thoughts from me to you and your family. May peace be with you.

  13. I love drinking in a book in one day! Last one I did was *Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom* by Cory Doctorow... not your cuppa tea I suspect, but perfect for a menopausal cyberpunk like myself to read on a plane, and you captured the "gotta live out the end of the book with the characters now" feeling of a real reader with a book that speaks to her.

  14. Found you by way of Time Goes By. I support elder bloggers! Please check out my site Advancedstyle.blogspot.com where I feature stylish and vital people over 50.

    Ari Seth Cohen

  15. When the world looms large,
    and the tape in my brain continues
    to loop;
    I find an audio book and make myself
    I get deliciously lost, sometimes for days.
    There are some great readers who take my hand
    and lead me into the world of words.
    I too admire who you are, and am also saddened by what you have had to endure.

  16. So you're not recommending one specific book then? Just ALL of them that he's written? I've never heard of this guy, but I'm making a note of it now.


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