Wednesday 29 September 2010

Blank pages

My story
gets told in various ways: a romance,
a dirty joke, a war, a vacancy.

- The Essential Rumi, New Expanded Edition, Trans. Coleman Barks et al., p. 47
The bookstore is closed. I am in my new apartment; there are still boxes on the floor and some of those boxes contain essentials to be assembled, such as the new dining room table. But the bookcases? The bookcases are up and they are stocked. For the first time, my personal collection has been wrangled into a certain amount of order - each shelf is organized alphabetically by author, even though each bookcase boasts no universal order. Also, all my Japanese books are together. I am no longer a book-seller but I can't return to my youthful glorying in total bookish chaos and having no idea where anything is.

Perhaps bookshelf chaos is no longer attractive now that my life, for at least the next three months, will possess no structure. I had enrolled in a Japanese language class for Monday and Wednesday evenings but the instructor was atrocious so I dropped out; dammit, I've done enough school that wasn't fun - now that it's entirely voluntary, there will be no suffering through. Hubby and I have agreed that I'm not to begin looking for work until Jan 1, 2011.
It's been ten years since I had a real break, and I really need one. I was meant to have a break in between finishing grad school and taking over the bookshop but that was reduced to a mere 10 days as my defense date was pushed to its outer limits after I landed myself in hospital in the middle of writing my thesis conclusion. So, it's time for me to learn to relax again, to take the time so generously offered me by the universe (and my rich, indulgent husband) to think hard about what I might like to do to bring in some donuts.

I'm not the first 35-year-old to have to contemplate a whole new professional course in life. But if I'm to be honest, my resume is the sort of resume that will make HR monkeys' heads explode. A brief summary of my salient qualifications and experiences:
  • PhD English Literature, but can't/don't want to pursue an academic career
  • I like teaching literature, but only Shakespeare, and only his drama, and only to 18-22-year-olds
  • Excellent writing and editing skills
  • Really, really good at reading!
  • I kind of hate working with the public
  • I've travelled literally around the globe
  • I like deadlines, a lot
  • Don't want to sell any more books
  • Don't want to sit in front of a computer all day
Er, yeah. This is going to take some figuring. But right now, all my figuring's going towards determining what to do when dinner isn't concluded at 9pm because I've worked till 7. Seriously, hubby and I finished dinner at 7 tonight and we literally did not know how to cope! I'm a bit lost, I guess. I've got 3 months to re-write myself in some ways. In the lead-up to closing the shop, I found this prospect to be tremendously exciting; today, I'm a bit overwhelmed by the open-endedness of it all.

One good thing: I'm reading again. I finished Roddy Doyle's Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, which wins the 2010 Bookphilia Prize for Most Deceptive Title. I was expecting a comedy full of sharp, snappy back-and-forth and instead got a slowly unravelling domestic tragedy. Gah. But it was good, and I want to write a little more about it later.

I started reading a swords and muscles and political intrigue book by Bernard Cornwell but lost it for a week or so in the move and by the time I'd found it, had lost interest.

Now, I'm reading a lesser known Wilkie Collins called Little Novels. Delicious and easily digestible little morsels they are, perfect for my weary brain. Apparently, it wasn't popular when it was first published in 1887; silly Victorians!

More anon. I think I will soon be able to begin posting again with regularity, and hopefully also charm, wit, and the usual, er, genius.

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Insomniac reviews in five words or less!

I really hope this will be the one and only episode of Insomniac reviews in five words or less! here on

Books I've read since the bookstore closing shit storm began:

1) The More Than Complete Action Philosophers!, Fred van Lente and Ryan Dunleavy.


2) The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness.


3) Real World, Natsuo Kirino.


4) Sister of the Dead, Barb & J.C. Hendee.


I'm still reading Dickens' Little Dorrit, but it's been packed in anticipation of next week's move to our deluxe apartment in the sky, so I'm not sure when I'll see it again. Or have the brain to engage with it. Next up: some Bernard Cornwell and more swords and people with lice.

Tuesday 7 September 2010

The best thing about bookstore closing sales... that people sometimes give you money, on purpose, for Nick Carter bios that are 10 years old.

That's the beauty of capitalism, my friends.

PS-I miss you. I also miss books that aren't about vampires and elves and immortal beings trapped in dogs' bodies.