Two Book Recommendations

I know I haven't posted in a while, which means I'm breaking the two cardinal rules of blogging: Posts should be frequent and short. Well, I'll try to manage one of those by keeping this brief (I know. Too late.)

I would love to say I've been slaving away at my lesson plans for this next school year all summer, but that would be a lie. I've been camping a lot. And napping a lot. Everything else has fallen by the wayside. I have been trying to catch up on some reading, and I've just finished two very good books. Normally, a book recommendation is the worst kind of advice to give me. I write down the title, say I'll get to it one day, and promptly forget where I put the name. If you, dear reader, have the same proclivity, this might help. These book recommendations have time limits, because both these novels are being made into films, and after reading both, I fear the movies will be monumentally awful. They will either be overlayed with voice-over narration because anyone with any sense wants to make them into movies because of the beauty of their prose, or they will be vapid chronicles of the events in the books which really aren't the point of either novel.

Read The Lovely Bones. I am not a crier, but I teared up more than once. The writing is very good, and the picture of a family dealing with grief is so spot-on that you forget your first reaction, which is that the idea of a murder victim narrating her observations of the living is at best clever and probably lame, and instead decide it was brilliant. This isn't true, but the quality of the writing almost makes it so.

Time Limit: Read by 3/13/2009
(Peter Jackson is attached, but I'm worried this will be far more King Kong than The Lord of the Rings. At least it won't possibly be Meet The Feebles.)

Read The Road. Imagine Mad Max meets No County For Old Men (a novel also by Cormac McCarthy) but with a father and son set-up that rips your heart out over and over without ever getting schmaltzy. Not even once, and that's saying something. McCarthy could teach Hemingway a thing or two about the economy of language. It was the first time I ever felt a physical pain in my chest caused by words the writer didn't include. McCarthy plays with your ears, so you hear things the characters don't say on the page, and sometimes you're deafened by their silences, too. The text itself is scant, but the thick subtext (midtext?) makes you read the book more slowly, like a great basketball player who knows how to control the tempo on both sides of the court. When I finished I was so full of feeling it reminded me of the kind of passion I could manage as a teenager, only the book indulges (and even exhorts) an adult recognition of nuance so that I can't understand, let alone articulate, exactly which direction these feelings are pulling. When you finish it, please post a description of your emotional reaction here, so I can use your road map to navigate my own.

Time Limit: Read by 11/26/08
(The cast looks amazing. Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall, Guy Pierce, Viggo Mortensen. At the height of their powers, these folks might be able to convey a lot of what's going on inside these characters. But then we miss out on the prose. Plus, they'll need someone with Robert Duvall's skill and resume to play the four or five-year-old boy. Macaulay Culkin will not do.)

Okay, well, now I've managed Infrequent and Long. If you still have any free time left, read both these books.