Monday, July 12, 2010

An update from the road

In the Detroit airport at lunchtime yesterday I was overcome with a desire for sushi so powerful it must have been synonymous with homesickness; I settled for a chicken quesadilla, which was a more realistic cuisine expectation, but today I had a very delicious lunch with my father at Pod in West Philadelphia, so that is a step in the right culinary direction.

I'll go to New York tomorrow and then fly back to Cayman from JFK on Sunday. Minor inconvenience: my keys and appointment book are of course still in Cayman, as when I flew from Cayman to Ottawa on June 25 I assumed I wouldn't be away for more than 10 days or so! It will be a huge relief to settle back into some sort of a routine...

In Ottawa, we were staying in the guest suite at Meridian Place; no internet in the room, thus the lack of posting, but a nice little library downstairs from whence I plucked a volume or two of Dick Francis, true comfort reading. I reread Straight and The Edge, though honestly I have read them both a disgustingly high number of times already; I started but put aside a Joy Fielding novel whose characters I found unlikeable, then trudged through Robert Crais's Hostage, which I enjoyed rather less than I remember doing when I first read it some years ago.

We had a good and essential if extravagant visit to a Chapters bookstore on Thursday or Friday for me to pick up some things to get me from Ottawa to Philadelphia yesterday; I started very early in the morning at the airport with Tim Wynne-Jones's The Uninvited, which I thought was very good but which reminded me that there really is in some cases a difference between fiction written for young adults and (as it were) non-age-specific fiction, then read Stephen Booth's Lost River, which I found over-full of geological and geographical padding (and talk about stringing out a modest personal storyline over a huge long sequence of novels/years!) but nonetheless enjoyable.

It was a long day of travel, so I subsequently made a dent in the precautionary value-for-money purchase, Justin Cronin's The Passage. It seems to me highly worthwhile, and I quite see why it is the big book of the summer; I liked the opening sequence better than the more science-fictional future middle bit I'm in now (Cronin does Greg Bear better than he does Octavia Butler, and the mythic/scriptural/eschatological flavor is a bit much!), but I would definitely recommend it pretty strongly on the basis of what I've read so far.

(Had a stop at the Penn Bookstore earlier today and picked up a few more things just to make sure that I do not run out over the next few days. Nothing worse than living on the ragged edge of having nothing left to read!)

I'm scaling back my plans for the rest of the year in a number of different ways, as I think things will continue to be significantly disrupted. I made a painful sacrifice, but I'll get over it. (2011 is another year!) I'm putting ABCs of the novel temporarily on hold and figuring that the style book will almost certainly need significant further work/revision before it reaches its semi-final state; I have to write two talks for October and an essay for February, all three of which things are related to the ABCs of the novel, so that will allow me to make at least a modest dent in what is no doubt a massive and long-term project.

My most immediate desire, though, is to bury myself in a new novel. I was already thinking in early June that it felt strange and undesirable not to have one on the boil; I am now very certain that I'd like to get started on a new one sooner rather than later. (Not least because it is much easier for me to work on a novel than a critical/intellectual book while traveling, for both mental and logistical reasons.)

I am not sure yet if it will really be young-adult or 'regular' adult fiction (with further uncertainties about 'genre' etc.), but it is going to be a retelling of The Bacchae set in a fantastical alternate version of Morningside Heights. This gives me all sorts of interesting and enjoyable things to ponder, such as what the relationship might be between the Greek/pagan aspects of the mythology and the plot and the Christian churches and cathedrals that border the neighborhood...


  1. Ahhhh, yay! I am so glad the MoHi book is next, and very intrigued that is Bacchic. EVEN MORE glad that you are coming home for a minute. Welcome back to the sushi-eating mid-Atlantic!

  2. The Bacchae in Morningside! Wondrous strange! Very excited for this one.