Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I was so much older than...

I'm turning into my mother. Except taller, with less gray hair, and somewhat different body parts. Also, she's 30 years older than me and lives in a different state.

Back when I was a kid of ~16yo and knew a lot more than I do now, I reached a moment when it suddenly dawned on me that maybe mom was, well, a little slow.

A few years earlier, there was a period of maybe a year or so during which the Autobiography of Malcolm X rode around on the floor of the car, underfoot and hard to ignore. You see, mom was reading it.

We're all readers in our family and we all read copious amounts of books. We all quickly learned to take books with us when we went anywhere that might offer some time to read (shopping, the opera, the zoo, swim practice...). So Malcolm X was her "take along" book. When she had time, she'd grab it and read a few pages. It went without saying that if mom was taking that long to read it, the book intrinsically required a serious time investment. I took that on faith. Also, mom was a librarian, and you don't argue about books with a librarian. (We also didn't dog-ear pages to mark our place.)

Then around 16yo, I read the book myself. I found it fascinating, well-written (co-authored by Alex Haley of Roots fame I believe), and compelling. Also a bit sad in that just as he was beginning to shift direction toward a less confrontational approach to change, he was assassinated. But here's the important thing -- it took me, maybe a couple of weeks to finish, max.

Holy slowpoke, batman! I'd just knocked out a book that my mom took 12-16 months to finish. What up, mom?!?

Fast-forward 35 years.

Um, now I know what up: Kids up. Life up.

Thankfully, these days when I crawl into bed I get to read because L has moved into her own crib. And I usually manage to squeeze in roughly 5 minutes of reading before my eyes stop working properly and I can't see anything and the next thing I know someone is snoring and damn it they're waking me up. And it's me snoring. And I never snore!

I'm in the (early) midst of The Harsh Cry of the Heron, the "last" book, the 4th book, of the Otori trilogy. I'd strongly recommend the trilogy, which I've read twice. This current book though is taking me months and is as long as Malcolm X's biography, but with less Nation of Islam. I'm not far enough along to say thumbs up or down on it, but I'm expecting to enjoy it, at least if I remember the beginning by the time I get to the end. It's something that, pre-kids, I would have knocked out in a couple of weeks.

And one more thing, there's a 5th book in the trilogy, a prequel that was written after the other 4. I suppose I'm going to have to read that one as well. It'll give K and L something to blog about in 40 years.

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