Late Nights on Air and The Ten Year Nap

My current schedule of everything including my heavy thinking on training for a triathlon (thinking only at this point folks, no real action taken but thinking requires a great deal of, well thinking), as well as waking up in the middle of the night with creative fb status lines and 140 character tweets about nothing, is keeping me very pre-occupied. This, in addition to the nervewrecking business of trying to sell and buy a house, means that I have no time to do anything like write book reviews. Forgive me but I’m giving in to serious mental laziness. I heard that this is what happens once you reach a certain age. My mother will tell me it’s because I’m airy. “You’re so airy” she told me this week. I’m airy. Airy or not here I go. I won’t be doing these books justice but neither do I want to pass them over because they were great reads.

Over Christmas or sometime around then I read Elizabeth May’s Late Nights on Air. The book chronicles a year (or something like that) in the life, of a small group of people, who find themselves working at a small radio station in Yellowknife, NWT sometime in the 70’s. Eventually a group of four set out on a canoe trip following in the footsteps of John Hornby who perished on his trip through the Barren Strait almost fifty years earlier.  There’s something beautiful, quiet and spare about this book.The late night radio anchors’ voices reaching, almost dream like,  out to the listeners in this remote community seemed so intimate and personal in spite of the public nature of the medium. The northern landscape also seemed like a character in the story and I found that interesting. But northern life (all life perhaps) is defined by this natural backdrop and I loved how the characters interacted with the landscape sometimes with tragic consequences but almost always as a part of a journey to greater understanding of oneself. Cool book. I’d recommend it.

The latest book I’ve read is The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer. This book chronicles the life of four women who have chosen to give up their careers and raise children. Now at the age of 40, with their children growing up, they question how they arrived where they are and what it means. At the heart of the narrative is the question of whether women can do it all, should they,  and do they even want to do it all?  The book almost felt like a sociological study of women in contemporary society. The details and the minutiae of all these women’s lives was so carefully captured that anyone reading it fifty to hundred years from now would have a snapshot of middle to upper middle income women in urban America the early 21st century. It’s also interesting that the mothers of these women made brief appearances offering a historic trajectory of feminism (or the plight of domestication on the female species). Good read.

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