Books 1/7/04

So when I started reading Tommy’s Tale, it was in the bathtub. In general, my bathtub books are only books that I’ve read before, that I know so well that I can start reading at any point and stop reading when I get out of the tub, not worrying that I need to finish them. Even if I’m in the middle of reading a book, if it doesn’t fit that criteria when I get in the bath, I take a different one with me. Therefore, new or potentially controversial books don’t usually make it into the bath. But for some reason, Tommy’s Tale made it, and suffered the same fate as the other bath books- when I got out I put it down and haven’t picked it back up to finish it. I started reading An Invisible Sign of My Own instead, and finished that, and now I’m onto Hell Hath No Fury, a collection of women’s breakup letters. Hopefully I’ll get back to Tommy’s Tale, but it’s almost like I’m procrastinating it. I have a book on loan from a friend thats slated for after this one, and then two books from the library… Maybe now just isn’t the right time for Tommy, I’m not sure. I like the writing, I like the character, so I’m not sure why I’m hesitant to dive back into it. Ah well. I’m sure he’ll wait.

Hell Hath No Fury, Women’s Letters from the End of the Affair, edited by Anna Holmes, is an interesting idea. Take a bunch of break-up letters, catagorize them, and give some context-especially historical reference for the really old ones. It’s mostly enjoyable in a voyeuristic sense, none of the letters so far (204 pgs in) has been simply “I hate you, we’re breaking up”, most go into lush detail about the relationship, the way they were wronged, their feelings… it’s a crystal clear window into a dramatic time in someone’s life.
Sometimes they’re enjoyable in a literary sense, with beautiful language and perfect wording. Thats far more rare, the best so far being by Virgina Stephens (later Woolf), Charlotte Bronte, and Queen Elizabeth I, who arguably had reason for theirs to be the best worded. Those are the letters that resonate because they perfectly phrase feelings experienced by probably everyone- but they say what we only wish we did while we were fumbling around with “It’s not you, it’s me”.
Some of the letters don’t really fit into either category, and to me, are boring. They’re just straight forward, to the point, and not poorly written, but not beautiful by any means. I assume they were included to give a complete overview of the genre, but I want entertainment, and thus, skip over them. Maybe I’ll have reason to look at them again on a later reading.

Current Reading: Hell Hath No Fury: Women’s Letters from the End of the Affair ed. Anna Holmes

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