I am back in the land of the living! Or back in the land of the blogging. I got rather carried away with it all... if you want to read my thoughts on Reading in Phases, then scroll down past the ramble...
Somehow being without a laptop for any length of time feels more or less the same as being stranded on a desert island. People are always 'stranded' on desert islands, aren't they? I think I'm going to be sequestered on one, if that ever turns out to be my path in life. By the by, I would last something under four hours in any sort of situation which required Great Survival Techniques. Case in point (and a neat circle to this paragraph): the Great Laptop Withdrawal.
My screen broke. Not sure how. I probably stood on it in the night, or something, but I woke up on Thursday morning to find that it was all sulky and broken, so trotted off to a computer fixy man. It's lingo like that which makes their eyes light up, and start suggesting I have the filange looked at. (Give yourself ten points if you recognised the Friends reference). Except, the eyes of the man in the first repair shop would only light up if he were set on fire. He was astonishingly unfriendly. I'm one of those guys who will always choose cheeriness over competence in a customer care situation. Both is nice, but if I have to pick one, I'd definitely come away happier from someone who hadn't a clue what they were doing, but smiled a lot.
So, I went off to another laptop repair place. The man there was much friendlier. Turns out it took longer and cost more than Unfriendly Company would have done, but... this is the price a pay for a smile. To cut a long story short, my laptop is back.
And I have managed to get through four computerless days. The main deficencies I noticed were (a) not being able to blog, (b) not being able to finish writing my chapter by my deadline, (c) not being able to check silly little facts which normally I'd just Google, (d) not being able to watch DVDs if other people were using the living room, (e) not being able to watch DVDs whilst I baked, (f) not being able to Skype my friend Lorna in Paris. That's probably about it.
On the plus side - I read more, slept more, procrastinated less, and generally made a better use of my time. I finished Patrick Hamilton's The Slaves of Solitude (might have to delay my review, though, as I have lent it to Harriet), read most of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery and other stories, fell further in love with The Element of Lavishness: the letters of William Maxwell and Sylvia Townsend Warner, and left piles of books all over my floor, waiting to be added to LibraryThing.
I'm not sure you required such a thorough update, did you? Clearly being away from blogging has left me a little unhinged. (Incidentally, appropos of nothing, I've always thought it would be fun if a song rhymed 'lachrymose' and 'bellicose'. But I don't think it's worth my while going into the singer-songwriter business just to make this happen.)
Onto the second, more bookish, section of The Blog Post That Will Make You Wish Simon's Laptop Had Never Been Fixed. Especially if it draws confessions out of you that you'd rather keep undrawn. I'm going to give it a little subheading, for those who've scrolled down to find it...
Reading in Phases
I used to be a very obsessive reader. I'm still obsessed with reading, of course, but I used to read everything in one series, or by one author, and fixate on that - until the next one came along. I now read much more widely, which can be quite frustrating sometimes as I might find an author I love (say, William Maxwell) and discover two or three years later that I've still only read one thing by him. I miss the opportunity of bouts of reading one author. Being 'well-rounded' and having 'broad reading interests' sounds good, but I'm pretty certain it has its downsides. Not that I do have especially broad reading interests, since about 85% of the books I read were originally written in English. But you understand my meaning... or you will, when you see how my reading life went until I was about 18.
learning-to-read until could-read-proper-books: Mr. Men
age 5-9: Enid Blyton
age 9: Goosebumps
age 10-11: Point Horror
age 11-12: Sweet Valley High
age 12-14: Agatha Christie
age 15: (meandered a bit)
age 16-17: A.A. Milne & Richmal Crompton
I simplify a bit. But generally those years were focused upon those authors, and it was only when I was 17 or 18 that I really started to read a couple of books by an author here, one by another author there, etc. etc.
But the reason I bring this up is because Verity lent me the new Sweet Valley Confidential: 10 Years On, because I was intrigued to see how it lived it up to my memories, but not quite enough to buy it. And I have been surprised, amused, and delighted by how many other bloggers remember Elizabeth, Jessica et al with affection.
Well... I got to p.40. It was awful. Utter drivel. I suspect I might feel the same if I went back to the original series now, and it just goes to show how tastes change. I'm always a bit surprised by well-read people who like to kick back with Mills & Boon or similar - I'm all for relaxing reading and comfort reading, but I don't find reading bad books relaxing. I just find it annoying. Give me Diary of a Provincial Lady any day - comfort reading that is still brilliantly written. (On the other hand, I love relaxing with bad films - I love good films too, but bad ones are great sometimes.)
Did you read in phases? I suspect every child and teenager goes through that stage, but perhaps it isn't simply a stage - there is something to be said for immersion in a single author or series, and perhaps some of you still do this now? I'm very tempted to set aside a few weeks just to read, say, William Maxwell or Milan Kundera or Muriel Spark or Barbara Trapido or EM Delafield - any of the many authors I've been stockpiling on my shelves. But I probably won't. Book group titles always seem to be obstacles to those sort of spontaneous reading projects.
This post will have to end sooner or later, won't it? And I suspect it should be sooner. Sorry again that it's been a huge messy ramble, and shows all the signs of having missed my daily (more measured) blogging. Promise I'll be more composed and contained tomorrow. In fact, I have a post planned, and it will almost entirely consist of a photograph.
Somehow I'm still typing...
...but I will stop...