Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Books and One Big Problem

Last week, I ignored my number one never-to-be-broken reading rule and started two books on the same day. Being on the negative end of the multi-tasking capability scale, I have no excuse for what I did, and now I find myself in a bit of a quagmire. How big is that quagmire? Well, now I am stuck...torn between two covers (bad pun, but this seems like it is shaping up to be one of those awkward stream-of-consciousness pieces). Want to know what happens when I start a new project before I totally complete another? Come to my house and check out my Heart-A-Rama piles from last May. I brought the bags of costumes and other assorted accouterments home, set them down...binders in the dining room, stuffed garbage bags in the bedroom, and there they remain, because I got sidetracked by another great opportunity.

Now I find myself with a huge decision, my peace of mind, and the future of my reading comfort hinging on the outcome. Which book do I continue reading? Will I have to start all over to get reacquainted with the characters and the plot? And what about the book I dismiss? Will I return to it at some point, or will it forever be forgotten, pushed aside and left to rot like a partially eaten banana that looked good when first peeled? Speaking of rot, that last metaphor stunk, didn't it?

What the heck, maybe telling you a little about the two books causing me such angst will help guide my decision. First, there's The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise. Being a sucker for quirky British stories...Sue Townsend being my favorite quirky Brit - I knew this would give me a few chuckles. Balthazar Jones lives in the Tower of London. He is a Beefeater, and has an unusual hobby that drives his wife batty; he collects rain. Balthazar is also charged with creating a zoo to house the exotic animals the Queen has been gifted, but he isn't quite up to the task. You gotta love a book book that includes seven ravens and a one-hundred and eighty-one year old tortoise named Mrs. Cook as major characters.

That's book #1. About thirty pages into it, I received a signed ARC (advance reading copy) of Christopher Moore's book, set for April 2012 publication, Sacre Bleu. Moore makes me laugh even though I don't always understand his esoteric references. He get irreverent at times, as he does in Lamb, the story Jesus' teen years wandering and doing boy stuff with his best friend, Biff. Moore gets outrageously bawdy in Fool, a re-telling of Shakespeare's King Lear. But that's OK with me. The guy is smart, and I enjoy his smartness all tangled in ways that are unexpectd and obtuse.

There's a surprise on each page, along with something to be learned, and, I assume, a lot of fictional history. Sacre Bleu opens on the day of Vincent Van Gogh's suicide, or was it a murder? The premise is intriguing, and the disjointed group of characters have me wondering just how they will all fit together. I know that Henri Toulouse-Lautrec wanders into the picture at some point.

Well, that's where I'm at. It would cost me nothing to abandon either book since I have barely broken the binding on either. But, both plots are calling. Oh, what to do? Today, I will dwell. I will evaluate. I will pace, ponder and obsess. I have set a goal. By 4 pm today, I will screw my courage to the sticking point (what did Lady Macbeth mean by that anyway?) and bravely set one book aside, out of sight, and commit to either Balthazar and the bully ravens, or return to the cornfield to uncover the truth behind Van Gogh's untimely death.

Or, maybe I could store my Heart-A-Rama gear. But then again, why bother, HAR 2012 is right around the corner.

*******If you have some time, check out the table setting exhibit at the Rahr West. Neat-O!