Monday, December 26, 2005

I Can Make the Rain Go

I finished Accordion Crimes on Christmas day, and I give this systematically dog-eared paperback copy (pleated like a bellows itself, but not by me) about six months to live, owing to the number of times I predict rereading it and all the places I will drag it (stuffed into canvas tote bags labeled Wyoming Association of Municipalities), after I’ve loaned it to all the people I want to discuss it with, assuming they don’t already have their own copy. It’s one of those alchemical books that magically transform me into a better writer by the time I’m done absorbing them, their language and construction, their mistakes and brief brilliance. This one also apparently has the power to plunge me into an aggravated state of temporary depression. Thank God it no longer possesses the advantage of surprise.

I have to be honest and admit, however mentally ill it proves me, that the off-key, number one reason I enjoyed this book so much is this: the central character is an inanimate object. (No, it doesn’t tell its own story like that goofy toaster.) I am a person who gets severely attached to toys, shoes and clothes, ticket stubs, soup bowls, vehicles, buildings. I like to imagine where the things I encounter came from, how and why they were made, where they may go after I no longer have a use for them (assuming I can bear to get rid of them). How clever of E. Annie “Controversy is my Middle Name” Proulx to strew a sinister accordion’s linear path with the wrecked lives of dozens of remarkably screwed up people, fleshing out each era of the instrument’s tumultuous existence. The details are so biting, so outlandish or crude or hilarious in many places that the juicy tidbits Proulx throws in about people who are on the story’s stage for a mere instant are like surprise gifts.

I got Anne Rice’s CHRIST THE LORD: Out of Egypt (from Mom) and Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (from RaeDell) for Christmas. The Broadway musical Wicked is based on Maguire’s book, and if the book is anywhere near as mind-blowing as the show, this is going to be another of my very dear favorites.

I’m happy tonight. (I need to obtain one of those absurd Internet mood gauges so you can check before you dig into a post, don’t I?) Christmas stress is behind me and turned out to be a trifle after all, the weather’s unseasonably kind (I’m sure we’ll pay for it), I’ve made an intriguing new friend, I have hot water on demand, and there’s a new Playstation 2 in the family. If I could just get more than four hours of sleep at least three nights in a row, I’d have the world on a string.


Anonymous Larry said...

Although it is perhaps presumptuous to suppose that if I were in the vicinity, you'd loan me a copy of this "Accordion Crimes" book you speak of, I have taken the liberty of requesting it from the library to see what the fuss is about... If only since I'll trade you discussion about the work of a Wyoming author for that of an Upstate NY author after you've finished reading your Christmas present! Really, it was all I could do not to stay on my lunch break for the rest of the afternoon so that I wouldn't have to tear my eyes away from "Wicked"...

December 27, 2005 at 3:17 PM  
Blogger A said...

Hurray! I can't wait to read "Wicked" but I started "Christ" first. But when we get far enough to discuss, it's a date.

low down, I don't claim the brilliant lunatic for my state. I'd still rather she take up residence somewhere else. She's scaring me.

December 27, 2005 at 5:02 PM  

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