Reading On The Road

Hello Internet, it’s Saturday, September 22nd, and I’m on the road. And I’m reading. For clarification, I’m not actually reading On The Road.

I confess to never having made it through Kerouac’s On The Road. I keep trying, and I keep failing. It’s not even that it’s hard to follow, or uninteresting. It’s just the kind of book that requires an hour or two of focus to make any progress, and in usual life I try to squeeze bits of reading into 15-minute waits for buses and 35-minute runs on the treadmill… and that just wasn’t cutting it for Kerouac. I planned to get it read this summer while basking in the relative relaxation of a full-time acting contract, but then I wound up reading George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series (better known as “the Game of Thrones books”), which is the literary equivalent of chocolate cake. I mean, complex, relatable characters, multiple points of view, love and betrayal and incest and dragons. DRAGONS, guys. Delicious.

Compared to Martin’s approximately 5000 pages of icing-covered brain-brownie available to me, Kerouac’s sensibly-sized novel was like… um… tofu scramble. With snow peas and asparagus and more cumin than you’re entirely sure was necessary. A bit confusing, a bit weird, and altogether not chocolate cake.

Plus, I loaned it to a friend for most of the summer.

Yes.

(For the record, I also read a bunch of poetry, including Agnes Walsh’s Going Around with Bachelors and George Murray’s latest, Whiteout. And Patrick Warner’s first novel, double talk, which is just… so great. All of them are great, actually. To continue with the food analogy, they are marzipan, chocolate chip banana pancakes, and jambalaya, respectively. And I mean that in the most complimentary of ways. Also, now I’m hungry. Good work, St. John’s writers.)

OK, enough with excuses. On The Road will get read eventually. When I am able to find it  second hand or at a library in a place where I plan to be for long enough to read a book. But not today.

Today, I am reading The Bone People by Keri Hulme. It was loaned to me by a friend who lives in Ottawa, so my task is to finish it before I leave Ottawa on Thursday. It is good so far. It even managed to help me through my book hangover when I finished the 4th Ice and Fire book. It takes place on New Zealand’s south island and deals a bit with Maori culture and folklore (which is why I started reading it), but it also has interesting characters who I like (which is why I’m still reading it). So that’s good. And has to get read by Thursday. Who knew that travelling came with so many deadlines?

Next on the list is The Man with the Hole in his Head by buddy-o-mine and summertime colleague Kevin Woolridge. It’s his first novel, it came out in August of this year, and I have a signed copy which needs reading. The first chapter, which I read the day I got the book, was pretty neat, so I’m looking forward to the rest. And I am striving to get that one finished by the time I leave North America (ps. friends meeting me in Vegas, you may get sent home with a book. Be warned.).

And then. Oh, then.

My parents have gotten me an eReader. Because I asked for one for my birthday, and they’re good like that. It’s pretty. I opened it up today and just spent all morning playing with it, downloading books from the public domain, fiddling with the Newfoundland & Labrador Public Library website (because it doesn’t matter where I am physically, my NLPL card still works), looking up books I may want to buy, and generally enjoying myself by staring at all of the shiny possibilities. Maybe, by the time I leave Vegas and embark on a 14-hour journey across the Pacific, the request I put in for the 5th Ice and Fire book at the library will come through. Or I can borrow The Hunger Games. Or read Treasure Island. All of it on this little device that is smaller and lighter than ONE book and fits happily into my purse.

Guys, we live in the future.