Saturday, August 20, 2011

Life and reading updates

It's been a rough week in my household - I got hit pretty hard with a sinus infection last Sunday, went completely hoarse on Wednesday, and am still suffering from laryngitis today, though my other cold symptoms have lessened pretty drastically. In addition to that, my husband and I are still wrestling with the idea of moving (we have decided that if we do move we are getting a decent amount of new furniture, though, which pleases me in a domestic way. Our couch was picked up from a sidewalk and is certainly on its last legs, and our mattress definitely needs replaced.), and while neither of us is 100% happy, we are resigned. Such is life sometimes.

To cope with my laryngitis, we have been using text to speech software with some pretty hilarious results. My husband's name is Romanian (like him), and the text to speech software has a lot of trouble with it.

I hate being sick. I'm sure that there really isn't anyone out there who enjoys it, but I'm the kind of person who doesn't get sick a lot, but when I do get sick, I really get sick. I don't get the sniffles and then get over it. I am laid up in bed for 3 days, have a fever, can't talk, and then the cold lingers for a full 10 days. I've tried going to the doctor, but they just tell me to take it easy and try Zicam. Meanwhile, my son tears around the apartment with only the slightest hint of the sniffles.

But all is not illness and cardboard boxes! This upcoming week is Kerouac Fest! Hoorah! No matter what else may be going on, I am going to Kerouac Fest, dammit. It keeps me sane and balanced to be with my arts family. While we are there, Blood Pudding Press will be releasing Letters From Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel!! The poems in this chapbook haven't appeared in many journals, unlike the poems from Barefoot and Listening, so I'm double excited. Yay!

I have also managed to do some reading while in the midst of all the craziness. I read Gorgon by Peter D. Ward, a nonfiction book that chronicles the adventures of a paleontologist as he attempts to find evidence of a rapid mass extinction at the end of the Permian era, 250 million years ago. While not as much about science as the copy would suggest, I actually found the true content of the book much more interesting than I had expected. Ward weaves into the book his experience with apartheid while working in South Africa, which was truly fascinating, and makes me want to read more on apartheid. When the "heavier" science is present, it is explained in a way that I, a non-science major, could understand without feeling talked down to, and the end of the book made me hope he is planning to write more. Also, he managed to connect discussion about mass extinction on Earth to discussion about life on other planets, and I do love outer space.

I also read The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and am probably the last person to have done so. I very much enjoyed it, and will probably move on to read Unaccustomed Earth, in spite of it generally receiving less glowing reviews. It was a great collection of stories dealing with what it means to belong to a country and a cultural identity as well as the loss of cultural identity. Loss seemed to play a big theme in the collection - how we deal with loss, how we interpret loss through a cultural lens, and how others respond to a loss not their own. It was extremely readable, and I felt like I knew her characters instantly. I wasn't particularly a fan of The Namesake as a story (though I will admit that I only saw the film), and wouldn't say that I loved every one of the stories in The Interpreter of Maladies, but the combination of them was gorgeous.

I'm still plodding my way through A Briefer History of Time (I never took physics in high school - give me a break!) and am about half way through The Toughest Indian in the World (though I am tempted to shift over to Indian Killer for reasons that I will discuss in whatever I write about whichever book I finish first). I am also slowly making my way through Saint Monica, though less in the plodding way with Briefer History, and more in the this-is-so-delicious-I-can't-swallow-it-all-in-one-gulp way.

1 comment:

Ron Starc said...

The current best text to speech software is Text Speaker. It has customizable pronunciation so you can get the sound exactly as you want it. The bundled voices are well priced and sound very human. There are even Romanian language voices.