Wednesday 1 April 2009
In which the gushing is so intense as to require cuss words
I know you're waiting for me to begin posting formally about what it's like to be a book-seller, and I promise I will do very soon. In the meantime, here's a little tidbit:
I fell asleep in the store today. I was sitting behind the desk, leaning against the wall behind me and I began to nod off. I didn't fight it too much because between 2 and 3:30 pm is the slowest period here. Also, there's a bell on the door to wake me if anyone comes in.
Yes, I've fallen asleep in the store before. But sleeping here today was kind of a meta-bookstore experience, because I dreamed I was wandering around the store trying to pick out a book to read. And I couldn't find anything. What a bunch of blasted weirdness! Like that would ever happen.
I wonder if it was more about the anxiety of what to follow up Gaetan Soucy's The Immaculate Conception with than about some deep-seated and hitherto unacknowledged concern that my bookstore stocks only crap - because The Immaculate Conception is the best book I've read in quite awhile.
Not only is this an amazing novel, but it also proves my theory that French Canadian literature is generally better than English Canadian literature, and I'm going to be testing that theory further by reading everything else Soucy has published (and has had translated into English, of course). I've also been eyeing some Marie-Claire Blais that's sitting on the shelf here, because her Mad Shadows also proves my theory (indeed, it may have given rise to it).
A former student of mine recommended The Immaculate Conception to me - the same person who introduced me to P.G. Wodehouse; talk about symbolically killing your teacher by outreading them on every front. Anyway, I am always happy to take reading advice from people I know aren't crazy and Fathima made fun of The Secret once so I know she's alright. Oh, and she likes Wodehouse and was a really good student. Ahem.
I don't think I can give you a plot synopsis of The Immaculate Conception without telling you almost everything. I can tell you that nothing about it was predictable; or almost nothing. I figured out one surprising thing but only very late in the book, right before it was revealed by the author.
The writing and translating were beautiful and if the translator (Lazar Lederhendler) wasn't doing the book entire justice it may have been to protect readers from the book's pure fucking awesomeness. Canadians, accustomed as they are to mostly mediocre offerings from their national authors, might not have been able to handle this.
Or I could be just be getting caught up in talking mush. I do that sometimes; it's kind of fun. You know, I thought when I started writing this post that I would have to defer it until later because I felt so sleepy. Apparently the cure for falling asleep at work is to blog and swear a little.
But back to The Immaculate Conception. It's gritty and mystical and genre-bending and disturbing and absolutely fucking brilliant. I am so happy to have read this book. I hope you're enjoying your reading as much :)