Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Many, Many Apologies...

Sorry to those of you who have been checking in wondering where in the world I've been for the better part of a week. Well if you must know (yes, I know I'm flattering myself to think that anyone actually cared but, I put it to you, if I don't flatter myself, who will?), I've been in Seattle, Washington. It was work-related but I've spent the day walking around downtown, checking out the absolutely amazing Pike Street Market and riding the monorail to the Space Needle (which, strangely, isn't as tall as it looks on television). I've spent the week - when I wasn't working of course - trying to find the now non-existent Betty's Book Shop (another indie bites the dust, apparently), and instead stumbling across both a Border's and a Barnes & Noble. (Sigh) And yes, rather reluctantly and guiltily I did end up buying something from both stores. I picked up Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris and Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife by Sam Savage. Of course, it's only after I run out of both money and time, do I come across an indie bookstore tucked down by the pier called Left Bank Books. I felt guilty for not being able to afford another book, so I bought three stickers instead, one of which which reads, "Reading is Sexy." I have no idea where I'm going to stick it but it was just too cute (and true as well, in my opinion but who's asking me?) to pass up.

And, while I've been neglecting my blog and not spending money in indie bookstores like I promised, I have been gobbling The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson. What is it about the fictionalized memoirs of ministers? I'm not a religious person but Marilynne Robinson's Gilead was my favorite book of 2005. The Testament of Gideon Mack is proving to be just as engrossing. At the risk of repeating all those other folks who have reviewed The Testament, this book is well-told contemplation on the place of religion in the modern life. Take for instance this passage:

...why should the fact that I didn't believe in God debar me from ministry? Not only might faith be unnecessary in a modern minister, it might even not be desirable. There was so much talk about how churches needed to connect with people who had lost their faith or never had any: perhaps what the Kirk needed was an influx of faithless ministers. And if faith was essential, I would find out. I would be found out. It was in this frame of mind that, midway through my fourth and final undergraduate year, I began to explore the option of staying on Edinburgh to study Divinity.

And I've also re-engaged with Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It's amazing, I think, how quickly books we couldn't wait to get our hands on fall to the wayside (or maybe it's just me and I'm projecting). Eat, Pray, Love was one of those books. I started it as soon as I bought it and, as often happens, I got distracted by something else and put it down for a new toy. Well, the neglectful child has returned and Eat, Pray, Love is reminding me why I was enthusiastic about buying this book in the first place. Gilbert has the power of inspiring great empathy with her writing. I've never been through a heart-wrenching divorce - or any break-up for that matter (yes, I know I've been incredibly lucky) - or found God again during a breakdown on my bathroom floor but Gilbert is so incredibly honest with herself and her feelings that it doesn't take a large leap of faith for me to feel L'ho provato sulla mia pelle, which is Italian for "I have experienced that on my own skin" or, in a more colloquial translation: I've been there.