Sunday, September 24, 2006

Musings on Parenting and What?

When I started this blog, I intended to write regularly about books in addition to endlessly prattling on about my kids. Heck, it's even in the header up there! Lately (for the past, oh, year or so), you would be entirely within your rights to accuse me of false advertising.

I even added that list on the sidebar as an enticement to write about books. But when you are a complete slacker like myself, mucking about in the template to update the HTML code lacks a certain appeal.

Not that there is much to add to the sidebar (which I just did, by the way -- blink and you'll miss the new items). I haven't read much of anything; I'm still plodding through books at a snail's pace, still falling asleep after reading 2 pages upon settling into bed each night.

But the dearth of material isn't the only thing holding me back. I'm also struggling with a surprising discrepancy between my love of literature and my ability to discourse intelligently about it. Whenever I sit down to write my opinion about a book, I flail. I just can't seem to provide anything other than a cursory commentary. Where are the critical thinking skills that my liberal arts degree says I should have? I don't even think it's the time pressures of motherhood that's at work here; I think it's just me.

I cruise about the blogosphere and marvel at the talent there. Isabella, for example, writes about books with such deep insight; she examines themes and metaphors and historical context on an intellectual plane that I admire from far below. Danigirl's reviews are dependably witty, entertaining, and insightful. Julie can neatly eviscerate a weak book in one paragraph, and actually make me want to read nautical fiction by Patrick O'Brian. Elizabeth's ability to distill the salient points of a book in a few short paragraphs is nothing short of amazing. I eagerly await her Tuesday (or is it Wednesday now?) book reviews, both for her concision and her cogent analysis.

And then there's me. I got nothing. I've read a few family-based novels lately, and I don't have much to say about them. That might be part of the problem; books about family relationships tend blur together in my mind. And yet I gravitate toward them, almost subconsciously. One standout among this summer's batch is Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, a graphic novel about the author's, well, family, but the format and content and tone are so striking that the book occupies a world far distant from, say, another Sue Miller book. It's a book with sparse text, yet each page sparkles with visual and verbal erudition and wit. I found myself re-reading several sentences over and over just because I admired them so much. Other than Maus by Art Spiegelman, I'd never read a graphic novel -- maybe as a result of misplaced snobbery on my part. I'd be interested in others (any suggestions, Rachel?).

Well. For someone who can't seem to write about books, that was a long, painfully pointless post, huh? If you haven't clicked away in impatience by now, thanks for sticking it out.

Oh, and do you have any books to recommend for me? Maybe I'll even be inspired to write about them!