I now live in a town between a lake and several mountains, with a booming, thriving population of under seven thousand. Having grown up in Seattle, this is a bit of a change, though welcome. The little town has some very… interesting aspects. The Seattle-ite in me is aghast that there is no recycling service. The tomboy in me delights that wearing my nice, long skirt with combat boots is an entirely respectable choice. My internal weapon enthusiast noted that the thrift shops sold gun racks in their entryways. And the bookworm in me is amazed that pulling into the library mid-morning, we were pressed to find a parking space. I’ve never seen a busier library.
Granted, the selection of books isn’t huge, but there’s plenty of interesting things to read. I’ve taken to finishing a book a day recently, and after three days of three different fantasy novels, I decided to take a short break from the genre. My manic, unreasonable side presses that it would be fun to start at the end of the fiction section and work my way up the ranks, so that I might someday say that I’ve read every book in the library (it will never happen; you have my full permission to point and laugh). I picked up the last book, a contemporary novel: The Other Shulman, by Alan Zweibel. I opened it, read the first two chapters there, checked it out and brought it home.
My mother had decided to make the trip with me, as she also wanted to visit the library. In her case, it’s partly for books, partly because of some design work she’s doing. My mother reads nonfiction, and prefers biographies.
Still, I couldn’t help but read a few lines of my book to her, and mention that to get myself out of the fantasy groove, this book is about an overweight middle-aged guy trying to redefine himself by running a marathon. She liked the lines. I read a few more, when an especially good part came up. The novel really is hysterically funny, real and casual enough that she was certain that it was nonfiction before I pointed out the big ‘fiction’ tag on the spine. I went to go avoid working on my NaNo writing, curled up on the carpet, and continued my book.
Around page forty-five, there is a section about this poor man, trying to gasp in air, somehow recover his breath in the second session of his marathon-training program, walking, walking, taking longer strides… and then a girl jogger passes him, a young, cute blond with a tattoo just above her pant line. And he takes off like a creature possessed, trying, striving in a euphoria of vivid, poetic, and humor-streaked language describing his attempt to pace her, just so he can see more of that tattoo. I began snickering, shaking, and then fell over on the carpet laughing so hard that tears squeezed out of my eyes and my mascara ran onto my cheeks.
“Don’t do that. I’m warning you.” My mother was reading a cookbook, watching me intently through her reading glasses.
I had another mental image of the events from another angle. I couldn’t reply; my throat had almost closed up, my chest ached.
She pounced. “Back! Back! I’m reading this now! Don’t you have writing? Go! Go! Do your writing! It’s my book now!”
“Mom!” I accompanied my wail with poorly executed attempts at snatching the book back. My martial arts instructor would be ashamed.
“I’m reading this. You’re on page forty-six.” And my mom curls up on the carpet where I had been crouching and turns back to the first chapter. “Look, I’m already enjoying it. Go write your book.”
This, I think, is the peril of having a very young artist-mother who also enjoys books. From experience, this is going to result in having my library book go mysteriously missing every few days, only to wind up perched inside a sofa cushion, or inside my mom’s sock drawer. I’ll come back from the restroom, only to find that in the middle of the climax, my mother has gone back to chapter five and is again snickering about the marathon-trainee sprinting desperately after the woman with the tattoo.