September 2009 was…Back to school. I spent the first part of the month concentrating on hiring for the library and avoiding tragedy. Kisa and I took a much needed vacation – first to Fenway park (go Red Sox!) and then to Baltimore for a little getaway. September is the month I will always mourn my father, but now I add Mary Barney to the list of tears. As I have always said, everything bad happens in September. This year was no different. As you can tell, I buried myself in books.
The Escape was:
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka ~ I had completely forgotten how disturbing this book was!
- The Reivers by William Faulkner ~ a southern classic that almost had me beat.
- A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby ~ funny tale about a first-time expedition
- Out of the Blue: the Story of September 11, 2001 From Jihad to Ground Zero by Richard Bernstein and the staff of The New York Times ~ an unsettling journalistic account of what really happened on 9/11/01.
- The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough ~ a nonfiction about what happens when mother nature meets bad human design.
- Off Balance: the Real World of Ballet by Suzanne Gordon ~ a nonfiction about the ugly side of dance.
- Sarah Canary by Karen Joy Fowler ~ magical book about three very broken people (in honor of real character month).
- A Student of Weather by Elizabeth Hay ~ Hay’s first novel – one I couldn’t put down it was that good! This was on the September list as “the best time to visit Canada.”
- Native Son by Richard Wright ~incredibly depressing. I’m almost sorry I read it this month.
- The View From Pompey’s Head by Hamilton Basso ~ a last minute pick-me-up, read in honor of Basso’s birth month (but also doubled as a “southern” read).
For LibraryThing and the Early Review program: Day of the Assassins by Johnny O’Brien. Geared towards teenage boys, this was a fun, fast read.
For fun, I read a quick book called Women Who Run by Shanti Sosienski . Since our flight to Baltimore was only 40-some-odd minutes I didn’t want to bring a lengthy read. This was perfect.
Kafka, Franz. “Metamorphosis.” Franz Kafka: the Complete Stories.Ed.Nahum N. Glatzer. New York: Schoken Books, 1971. 89-139.
What a freaking sad, sad story (or novella, if you will). Even though I read this once in high school and twice in college I wanted to refresh my memory about the details. From my previous readings I remember Gregor woke up one morning to find he had transformed into a bug. Instead of being concerned about the multiple legs, hard shell and the fact he couldn’t turn himself over, Gregor was more upset about sleeping late, missing the train and being late to work as a traveling salesman. This was a key point in the story. I also remember his parents and sister not being all that supportive of his transformation. This also was a huge point in the story. His family was repulsed by his appearance and refused to consider him part of the family. Their neglect of him gets worse and worse until dirty and broken, he succumbs to starvation and the injuries sustained when his father threw an apple at him. What I didn’t remember was the nitty-gritty psychology of it all. Gregor’s resentment about being the bread winner for the family, how underneath it all he felt like a bug even before the metamorphosis, and ultimately his family’s complete exclusion of Gregor as an insect. The other detail I had completely forgotten was how freeing Gregor’s death was to the family. They moved on without a single regret.
To mark Gregor’s severe denial of bugness: “This getting up early, he thought, makes one quite stupid. A man needs his sleep” (p 90). Only Gregor is no longer a man, but an insect.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust twice. Once in the chapter called, “Czech It Out” (p 70), and once in the chapter called, “100 Good Reads, Decade by Decade (1910s) (p 177).