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 :)


Dull Mental Racket said...

Can I fall asleep at the store too?

Sounds like you had an interesting day.

J/k :)

Stacy said...

You have the same talent my mom does for falling asleep in places other than a bed. I can't do it myself but give her a hard floor or a chair and she can get some quality zzzzz's. I am going to go with your first explanation of the dream. I am always a little anxious after I have finished a great book because I know the chances of the next one being just as good aren't very good. I am having fun with my current read but I haven't crossed over into four-letter territory yet:)

Jenn M said...

I feel the urge to read some French Canadian authors coming on....I need to come by the store (when you're sleeping, heh).

Ahhh, P.G. Wodehouse. Embarrassing story - my parents had his collected short stories, or most of them, and when I was around 9, one of my friends used to come over after school and we'd hang out in the bathroom (!), brushing our stuffed horses and reading P.G. Wodehouse (Jeeves!!!) aloud to each other.

Sometimes I think I'm too nerdy to exist. I can't believe I just admitted that....

celine said...

If I can't get it here, can I order it off you?

Betty said...

if only we could all sleep on the job! :D That's an enthusiastic review. Thanks for sharing it. I love when I read a book that does that to me.

Meytal Radzinski said...

I don't think I've ever read a French-Canadian book so I can't really make the comparison to ordinary Canadian literature. It's hard for me to imagine just reading a book without knowing what it's about, but I've been trying to do this recently - read books without knowing much about the plot. It'll be an interesting read, in that case.

Bookphilia said...

Dull Mental Racket: No, you can't - you get paid better than I do.

Book Psmith: I actually can't really fall asleep in strange places, except, apparently, my place of employment. If I could sleep on planes, etc. I'd probably be a world traveller or something.

Jenn: Your story made me so happy, I can't even tell you. I think it's made me even happier than The Immaculate Conception did.

Celine: Yes, although if I'm right in my idea of where you are in the world, it would be much cheaper for you to buy it via or one of those online suppliers.

Betty: I know! It happens much too infrequently, although I've been on a good run lately.

An Anonymous Child: I try not to find out too much about a book's plot before I read it - I don't want to miss out on any necessary elements of surprise by reading the back cover copy, which can sometimes very annoyingly reveal everything.

celine said...

My local bookshop's getting it in for me! Can't wait!