Notes from the sickbed

I hurt my back pretty badly yesterday while removing my 35-pound toddler from the stroller with no brakes, from behind and at an angle. Pow! I was bedridden all day yesterday and although I feel much better today (hubby took the day off, thank you so much my dear) I'm still taking it very much easy.

On the bright side, in the last 24 hours I got to read a LOT.

I finished The Historian yesterday. I was this close to giving up on it completely, book group or no, at page 250. You may remember that my book group chose The Historian for this month because the author, who lives in Ann Arbor, will be giving a talk at the library next month. We thought we could try to go to that, too. And you may also remember my post about all the difficulties the various members of my group had in getting hold of copies of the book. (By the way, did you notice the comment to that post from someone named Eli? I have no idea who Eli is, but if you click on his name it takes you right to the Ann Arbor District Library home page. What an honor! Someone at AADL is reading my blog! *big smug grin* I'd rather have that than be on that stupid A List any day! I also got a letter from Little Brown -- yes the publishing company -- hand-addressed to me. You wouldn't believe the grandiose thoughts that went through my head before I opened the envelope, even though I haven't submitted any MSS recently ever recently. The letter in the envelope said the same thing as Eli's comment: they've changed the date of the talk, so I can go after all. Yay!)

Anyway. The Historian. The first 250-or-so pages were a little boring. But it got better, gradually picking up momentum, and there were aspects of it that I liked a lot. Here are a few random thoughts, which contain ***SPOILERS!!!*** but I'll write them anyway because I know so many people have already read it.

1. I wish the "voices" were more varied. Pick a random sentence, you wouldn't know if it was the daughter, the father, Helen, Rossi, Turgut, Barley, Dracula. They all sound exactly the same.

2. I wish there had been an explanation other than random coincidence for their bumping into Turgut. Maybe there was and I missed it.

3. It would have been a better book if Rossi had accepted the "job" of his own volition. I would have! I would have included some discussion about knowledge itself being neither good nor evil, only the use one makes of it. I'm not sure whether or not I believe that, but this book is a perfect vehicle for that discussion.

4. I loved it that Vlad/Dracula, while alive, was apparently concerned about the salvation of his soul, donated all that money to the church, etc.

5. I have to think about this some more, but it bugged me that the dragon books had blank pages.

6. I loved it that he went after librarians and archivists.

7. I wasn't thrilled about Helen deserting her family.

8. This is just a tangent, but there was a reference to a Panteleimon. I instantly thought of the His Dark Materials series, so I did a little research. In case you are interested, he was a Russian Orthodox saint, and here is his story.


  • Feel better soon!

    posted by Blogger Heather on 5:04 PM  

  • Oh, I feel your pain! I threw my back out at the end of last school year and it was out of whack for about 6 weeks. It totally sucked. As for "The Historian" I almost gave up 3/4 of the way through because Dracula still hadn't shown up. I thought the relationship between Rossi and Paul was a little weird, didn't you? I mean, I think my advisor is nice and everything, but I don't think I would be traipsing all over Europe to save her from evil personified. Does that make me a bad person? When is Elizabeth coming to the AADL? I think I might go hear her. And Eli is terrific! I interviewed him once for a library class that I had and he was really helpful.

    posted by Anonymous Nixie Knox on 5:17 PM  

  • Thanks, Heather! :)

    Nixie, yes, absolutely! I mean, maybe other people "love" their advisor -- and yes, he used that word, remember? -- but I've never had one that was THAT great! Certainly not enough to justify what Paul did for his.

    Kostova's coming Oct. 13th, 7pm, but you had to sign up in advance. My understanding is there's a waiting list. Still, seeing as you're a librarian and all, maybe you could get in somehow. Maybe Eli could sneak you onto the list. Eli? Are you reading this? Eli??

    posted by Blogger Julie on 7:05 PM  

  • I hope you feel better soon - back stuff is no fun at all. What a sweet husband you have that he took the day off to help out.
    I gather they solved the strike issues since he's back at work.

    posted by Blogger GuusjeM on 9:10 PM  

  • I skipped the spoilers. I DESPISE backpain. First time it happened to me I was nursing. Panicked. But I secretly look forward to catching minor colds so I can spend a day in bed reading. Hope your pain goes away asap.

    posted by Anonymous Laura on 12:48 AM  

  • Man, I can't even get my wife into that event!

    One other thing you all may be interested in: on the front page of, there are three posts about the three finalists for this year's Ann Arbor Reads selection, Galileo's Daughter, Beak of the Finch, and A Fish Caught in Time. The selection committee is using these posts as an opportunity for the public to offer the comments or opinions on which book Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti should collectively read this winter. We hope to see your comments!

    posted by Anonymous eli on 1:19 AM  

  • I've had a bad back for 20 years now; I know how you feel. You are right, though, it's always a great time to catch up on the books that somehow always remain in a pile starving for attention.

    posted by Blogger Fred on 8:19 AM  

  • Thanks, Guusje! Yup, school started on time. But it's only a 1-year contract, so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

    Laura, thanks. I agree it's not so bad to be a little bit sick.

    Eli, thanks for the great suggestion! I was just thinking about what to read next. I will rise to your challenge! And, by the way, my sister is wondering whether you have a little boy in the 3s class at Ann Arbor Coop. Email me if you want.

    Fred, precisely!! My sympathy on the 20 years, though.

    posted by Blogger Julie on 9:48 AM  

  • Julie,

    I want to tell you all why The Historian bothered me so much, but . . . I can't . . . I can't bear it . . . later . . . when I'm stronger.

    * * *

    Hey Jules...cmt here....This is just the sort of easy (read cheap) narrative/suspense device used CONSTANTLY in The Historian that drove me crazy. Also, closing waaayyyy too many chapters with the 'unexplained dark figure in the shadows'.


    posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 11:37 AM  

  • So, cmt, uh, I guess you're not going to her talk at the library????

    posted by Blogger Julie on 11:45 AM  

  • I hope your back gets better soon!

    posted by Blogger Running2Ks on 12:36 PM  

  • No, not so much. ;-)

    I still finished the thing, and it did have a certain momentum, but I felt manipulated passim.

    posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 12:55 PM  

  • Och! I hope your back feels better soon . . . I'm going to make a chiropractor appointment for myself this week too.

    How sweet of them to reschedule the talk so you could come. ;-)

    posted by Blogger purple_kangaroo on 10:24 PM  

  • I never hurt my back until after having kids. Rest up, let your wonderful hubby pamper you, and feel much better soon! Gr8 news about the talk! :) I'm salivating at the enticing book recommendation.

    posted by Anonymous SilverMoon on 3:42 AM  

  • Yup, Julie, that's my Nemo! Your sister asked me if I was 'that eli' this morning.

    I am. =)

    posted by Anonymous eli on 2:21 AM  

  • Thanks for the Panteleimon link. I hope your back feels better soon!

    posted by Blogger Phantom Scribbler on 1:55 PM