I hope this morning finds everyone in the path of the Midwest tornadoes and storms safe and out of harm’s way. So incredibly scary. I’m finding it a little ironic that the book I was planning to tell you about is called The Storm at the Door.
But oh my, what a book it is.
It took me nearly 3 weeks to finish it, which makes this a huge accomplishment ’round here these days. Within the last month, reading has dropped down considerably on the priority list amidst this nonsense of finalizing the mortgage for this house and its approval process (one of the most stressful experiences of my life, I swear to God) and packing up the apartment and moving into said house. Add in a not insignificant amount of work stress and the day-to-day raising of kids (who have been GREAT through all of this, considering) and it’s easy to see why I’ve been reading the same book since March 22.
I told you a little bit about Stefan Merrill Block’s The Storm at the Door in last week’s Salon post, and now that I was able to spend some time last night finishing it (my reward after finally unpacking the last of the kitchen boxes!), I can tell you that this has absolutely earned a place on my Best Books Read of 2012 list. (If pressed, I would say this was the best book I’ve read so far this year.) The Storm at the Door marks the second book that I have given 5 stars (out of 5) to this year. (The first one being The Snow Child, the debut novel by Eowyn Ivey.)
If you look at the Goodreads reviews, it’s clear that readers either love or hate this one. Obviously, I’m very much entrenched in the former camp. It’s not a light read, either by way of the prose nor of the subject matter. This has been described as a courageous and extraordinary book, and it is. In The Storm at the Door, Stefan Merrill Block takes on the story of his grandparents, Katharine and Frederick Merrill, and tries to fill in the gaps of what happened to his grandfather and his family when Katharine had her husband committed to a mental hospital in 1962.
The way this one is written is such that it’s Katharine’s story, it’s Frederick’s story, it’s the story of the administrators and those (including famed poet Robert Lowell) who are also patients at the Mayflower Home (a stand-in for the real-life McLean Hospital). It’s partly fiction and partly memoir (I’m counting it as part of my Memorable Memoir Reading Challenge, since my loose definition for this challenge is that if you think it is stuff of memoir, it counts.)
I also started a new audiobook this week, given that I had to be in the car for a drive for a meeting two hours away (each way) this week. Richard Russo’s That Old Cape Magic was a DNF for me, so I thought I would give him a second chance with Bridge of Sighs. This mammoth tome (it’s 544 pages and 21 CDs as an audiobook!) has been taking up space on my bookshelves for awhile, so I figured this drive would also give me a chance to decide if I wanted to keep it or otherwise allocate the space.
After starting off a bit slow, I’m going to stick with Bridge of Sighs. (I will eventually be donating the print copy to the library, however; I don’t see this as one that I must keep.) I don’t think Russo will ever become one of my favorite authors (and that’s OK) but I do think this is working well as an audiobook. It’s keeping my interest moreso than That Old Cape Magic did. We’ll see if that continues.
Hope you are having a good Sunday – and again, hope you are safe from any storms at your door, whatever form they might be in.
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