Monday, November 23, 2009

Hibernating with books

I'm usually up by 4 am, and our home is in some microclimate (facing north on a hillside in San Juan Capistrano) that brings us very chilly temperatures in the winter (we even get frost a couple of times each year).

So, I've found myself lighting the fireplace, throwing a blanket over my shoulders, heating some apple cider and cracking open a book more often this time of year. My immersion has carried over to my evenings after dinner--something rare from April through October when the Angels are playing almost nightly.

I had been to Borders recently to see if they had anything by the recently-anointed Nobel literature prize winner Herta Muller. They didn't; but I came across a book by last year's winner, J.M.G. LeClezio, a Frenchman who was born and grew up in Mauritius. It was called "Wandering Star," and I found the story compelling and his literary style wonderfully imagistic.

I moved on to a book I've had on my shelf for two years but was sort of dreading to read: "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine," by Ilan Pappe, and Israeli scholar. The title says it all, and refers primarily to the period just prior to and including Israel's war of independence (1947-49)--though it goes on to point out how that continues to this day in a variety of ways. Very well-documented but very tough to accept.

As if the contrast between those two books wasn't enough, I began (and have almost completed) "Open," the new memoir by Andre Agassi. The tennis star tells his life story through the craft of Pulitzer Prize winning author J. R. Moehringer ("The Tender Bar"--an excellent read). "Open" is tough to take in a different way, but equally compelling to read.

I've stacked up a couple more I'll be working on once I finish "Open" today.

Winter does have its special pleasures.

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