I have a master’s in English. I graduated with a 4.0, and I can write a 5 to 10-page literary criticism paper with my eyes closed. I’m not trying to impress you (I wouldn’t be impressed with that), I’m leading up to something.
I have a library full of Norton Criticals of the literary canon. I admit that I treasure my Riverside Shakespeare from my seminars. And I am grateful that I got over my fear of poetry and actually like it now.
However, I’m not in school any more, and I get to choose what I want to read. And most of the time, I choose not to read anything that will make me think as much as I had to when I was in school. Oh, every now and then I want to be challenged, so I might go to my list of those books that I really should read or something that won the Pulitzer Prize. But, honestly, I’ve found that many times I can’t get through the books that have won those awards. I think I’ve developed some kind of reading ADD. How many times on the third page of scenery or character description have I put the book down with a moan and say, “Get on with it!” I’ve said that with many of the “woman overcoming something” books, too. Lately, I just want to escape when I read.
This is a great disappointment to my friend A (I told you about her, she’s the one I see when I go home). A’s book choices puts Oprah to shame. If she doesn’t cry while reading a book, it wasn’t any good. So when she asks me, “Are you reading any good books?” I wonder if I should lie and tell her I just read the latest Mitch Albom or be honest and tell her I just read another Rebus mystery (because I’m trying to catch up).
Even worse to her would be what I’m reading right now. I put aside Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend, which seems like it’s going to be a really good book btw, because the library called to let me know that a book by Charlaine Harris that I put on hold was in. And this book is, well, it’s its own category, that’s what it is. The Denver Post says it’s “A delightful Southern, vampire detective series.”
Yep. That about covers it. Only it’s not just vampires, it’s werewolves and fairies and shape shifters (oh my!). Plus a little romance thrown in. Apparently, vampires have a voracious appetite for something besides blood. But these aren’t the erotic stuff of Laurel K. Hamilton’s vampire hunter series; it’s pretty tame and kind of sweet, actually.
They’re about barmaid Sookie Stackhouse (I swear, that’s her name), living and working in northeast Louisiana, which is part of the appeal for me because I lived in the Bossier City, Louisiana, and the towns around there are part of the books. Anyway, Sookie lives in a world where vampires have come out of the shadows and are part of our world. There are many other otherworldly creatures, but they haven’t made themselves known, choosing to wait and see how the vamps do first. But Sookie knows they exist and is even friends with some of them. Her boss turns into a dog, she has a fairy who is a kind of guardian angel, she dated a vampire, and her brother was bitten by a werepanther, so now he turns into a panther with the full moon.
You know, I type these things like they are every day occurrences and perfectly normal. But that’s the nice thing about the books. She’s created a wonderful and fascinating fantasy world. And they’re pretty good mysteries, too. There’s usually a few story lines going on at the same time, but it’s not so much that you get confused.
Also, Alan Ball (who wrote American Beauty and created Six Feet Under) has bought the rights to turn the stories into a series for HBO. I may have to expand my cable. *thinks about it* Nah. Cable’s too expensive already, and everything comes to DVD anyway.
So, I’m reading Definitely Dead. Each title has the word “Dead” in it, by the way. The first book is Dead Until Dark, then Living Dead in Dallas, then Club Dead. . . well, you get the idea.
My friend A would be so disappointed in me.