Thursday, March 23, 2006

BOOKS: No Sleep Till April

If you care about such things, you may be looking at your calendar, fiddling with your abacus, and realizing that I haven't added a new book to this year's tally in... a while.

Here's the problem. I'm reading Middlemarch. Wait, wait, wait, all you Middlemarch fans! Let me also add that I'm reading -- and loving -- Middlemarch. I love the characters. I love Fred Vincy, selfish rapscallion that he is. I love Mary Garth, as everyone must. I love Will Ladislaw, who seems like a pretty cool, decent sort. I love Dorothea, even though she might drive me a little nuts if I knew her in real life. I love Celia and her neat little trick for making those daintily barbed comments designed to bring Dorothea on a much-needed trip back down to planet earth without being a jerk about it. In fact, I wish all the young people in this novel could get together for one crazy, unforgettable night and party like it's 1899. Even Rosamund and Lydgate, though they're both on the tedious side. Every party has to have one slightly boring, self-involved but beautiful couple, right?

But dang. Middlemarch is not a novel to be reading when you're embroiled in the stickiest tax season you've ever endured. I am not a person who deals with complex money situations well. Some people have a "bull" philosophy toward financial management. Me? I prefer the "ostrich" approach, where I pull my head out of the sand in mid-April and ask, "Is it over yet? Did we win?"

So imagine that you're me, reluctantly procuring the services of a tax accountant, making phone calls, and gathering forests of paperwork. You do this between bouts of chasing a crazed eleven-month-old baby who, despite not being able to walk yet, still manages to move at lightning speed, said speed motivated by his apparently burning need to climb the stairs, molest the dog, and then stuff tumbleweeds of cat hair and lint into his own mouth. At the end of the day you sink, exhausted, into your pillow and turn to your book to unwind.

And then the novel takes a major plot turn involving -- and I don't think I'm giving away a major piece of information here -- the death of a wealthy old man who leaves his estate in an utter mess. This happened three nights ago, and it wasn't until last night that I connected the re-emergence of my old friend insomnia to the fact that I was reading about WILLS and MONEY and FINANCIAL UPHEAVAL before turning out my light.

So no more Middlemarch for me. Until April, anyway. In the meantime, I've got The Complete Short Stories of Truman Capote to help ease me along to sleepyland. Don't misunderstand: these stories pierce my soul in a dozen exquisitely painful ways, as only Capote can, each time I pick them up. But I'll take that over 3 am panic attacks any night of the week.


martha said...

Do you know about the Reading Middlemarch blog that's happening right now? There are several of us making our way through the book (you might aleady be one of them-- I don't know your real name), and if you'd like to check it out, the site is:

Even if you stop reading, it might be interesting to see what others have to say. And let me just say I also have the ostrich approach to finances, generally with disastrous results. We finally got a tax preparer, and now it's much much easier. Plus my husband knows how to use Quicken to record things. Yay!

Anonymous said...

Middlemarch!! *squeals*

What do you think of Mr. Farebrother? I'd love to hear how you think the triangle (*cough*) involving him should be resolved.