Autumn is here, but there's no crisp, blue sky or gently drifting leaves. It has literally rained nearly every day and the leaves are driven down, clinging wetly to the brick patio and sticking to the windshield. There wasn't much of a transition from summer beach vacation (just a couple weeks ago now) and this mucky, humid, gloomy seasonal shift.
Right after I finished The Bluest Eye, at last report, I entered a restless, non-reading period, which I blamed on the unremitting bleakness of three novels in a row. It seemed my brain would only take glossy magazines and DVDs of The Wire for awhile. At the beach I began Orhan Pamuk's memoir/history of Istanbul to get me out of my funk. It was charmingly told -- an eccentric mix of autobiography, Istanbul minutiae, old photographs, and of course, Pamuk's chronicle of his family life and his relationship with the city itself -- a city he has never abandoned, its old glory faded, ruined in fact, pulled between East and West, the Bosphorous serving as gateway and mythic companion.
He explores the sense of failure and melancholy that hangs over Istanbul and its inhabitants -- something he calls huzun -- and reflects on how he has come to understand that deep sadness and accepted it as part of what he loves about it and what has nurtured him as a writer. He is playful, often funny, with terrific anecdotes of his family and his grandmother's museum-like rooms, his father's philandering, his "second life" and the imagined twin Orhan -- a happier, sunnier Orhan, who lives a charmed life elsewhere in the city.
I'm now reading a book that it seems I should have read long ago -- Shaara's Killer Angels. It really is inspired. Since I'm still in only the first third, I'll reserve further comment. And yes, I'm still working on that bookshelf by the bed.