The Sunday Salon: As Time Goes By

Already on this Sunday morning I have been up for hours, yet it’s still dark outside.

That is not a good sign.

Sleep eludes me this week, at least the good, deep sleep that rejuvenates the body and spirit. I’ve been waking at 3 or 3:30 every morning because there are things on my mind that refuse to be quelled  by slumber’s sweet oblivion. For a few hours their hammering at the door of my psyche goes unrecognized. Finally, its too much to ignore, and my mind give in.  “Oh for crying out loud,” I can hear it say. “Quit your banging out there and come on in.”

And so I wake and stumble to the kitchen, pull the coffeepot from inside the still warm and slightly steamy dishwasher, and start the blessed brew that will fortify me through this much too early morning.

Good reading has come from all this early rising (a silver lining in this insomniac cloud), and I’m here to chronicle it for you, scatter the dust on this Bookstack that has piled up since last we spoke more than a week ago (!).

On Easter Sunday, I re-read Into the Tangle of Friendship, a memoir by Beth Kephart. Coincidentally (or perhaps not so much) we had dinner the evening before at the home of a friend, who had pulled together a last minute gathering in an effort to lighten the heart of one who was mourning the very recent death of her only daughter. We all seemed gifted that night with the ability to make her laugh – we didn’t even have to work at it, she was so ready to let the tears go for a while. And that is SO what friendship is about, wrapping your arms around someone and giving them just the kind of love they need for a moment. These are the moments Kephart writes about as she traces some of her most vital friendships, and the book came alive for me in my experience that night.

Monday I picked up  my ARC of The World Without You, Joshua Henkin’s second novel and one I’ve promised to fully “review” much closer to its publication date in June. But plan to put it on your summer reading list. Henkin explores the emotional intricacies of a large family who have come together on the 4th of July to honor the memory of their brother, a journalist who was kidnapped and murdered while on assignment in Iraq one year earlier. Their varied approaches to life and to grief are chronicled with great insight and tenderness. As in Matrimony, Henkin pokes and prods at the beast of one of life’s great passages, and reveals much about its nature.

From one family saga to another of a different kind – Secrets of Eden, by Chris Bohjalian. It has been a while since I’ve read one of Bohjalian’s books, and I’d forgotten how he creates such convincing characters who sweep you directly into the heart of their story. This book, told from the viewpoint of four major players, is a literary thriller about a minister, one of his parishoners, her murder, and a woman who believes in angels. Loved it.

And for the past two days I’ve been totally immersed in Some Assembly Required, Anne Lamott’s book about “her son’s first son.” In her usual quirky style, Lamott can get to the exact heart of what I’m thinking and feeling. It’s always a gift when a writer conveys their  experience in way that’s like turning a mirror on your own. It’s comforting to know that so many of the feelings associated with being a grandmother are universal…

Seeing Jax, in his brown beauty and charm and lovliness gave me a big hit of peace. I think that the shadow side of being a grandparent is that the child becomes like an ATM of self-respect and completion. You can be at your worst mentally, with grudges, anxiety, and no self-esteem, then spend five minutes with the Unit and feel instantly restoresd. It is a form of love addiction. There are twelve step programs to stop using other people to fill up your holes.

Oh, well. Too bad, so sad. Hand over the kid! I will deal with this soon.

Grandchildren “grow you,” Lamott realizes at the end of Jax’ first year. “With your own child, you’re fixated on the forgeround, trying to keep the child safe and alive. But with a grandchild, you can be in softer focus, you can see beyond the anxious foreground.” It’s true – there is less ultimate worrying with a grandchild..even if I do find myself with the occasional grandiose dream of planning for college for him, and I’m already thinking of way to help out in paying for college.  Some things never change, I guess.

Good reading this week, friends, much of it done in the wee hours before sunrise on bright spring mornings.

How about you? What (and when) have you been reading this past week?

The Sunday


7 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: As Time Goes By

  1. I’ve been wanting to read good books about friendship. I shall have to look out that Kephart one you mention. I have been reading Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet, which is confusing but beautiful and makes me want to go to Egypt again.

  2. I love Anne Lamott. Will have to look for her latest, and while I’m at it, for Beth Kephart’s book. Friendships, strong friendships, are so important. Thanks for this. Hope you get a good night’s rest!

  3. Ah, I am so sorry about your insomnia. I also suffer from it from time to time and like you, I get up if I can’t go back to sleep. It sounds like you have had some good company in the books you are reading. I always love Beth Kephart’s work – just stunning. And I also have Lamott’s book in my stacks – thanks for the reminder to pick it up soon.

    Hope you will find the ability to sleep – at least one good night of rest – this week!

  4. Aw man, I hope you got some rest last night! I’ve got my eye on two Joshua Henkin books now, thanks to you! I’m also reading Anne Lamott’s latest–always a good read is she.

  5. It must be something in the water! I’ve been sleeping badly too, although it’s getting to sleep that’s foxing me. Very glad you’ve had some wonderful reading to keep you company, and I’m looking forward to Joshua Henkin’s second novel. It sounds most intriguing!

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