2010.02.17 Writing a column or reading Bohjalian? Which wins out?

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

OK, I admit it. I read more than 100 pages of Chris Bohjalian’s latest book, “Secrets of Eden,” instead of writing a column Monday night.

When David and I came home from the Observer office at 1 a.m. (a really late night for him, just the beginning for me), instead of pasting myself to the chair and cranking out a column, I read several chapters until suddenly it was 3:30 a.m. and I knew I was doomed.

It took me a while to get into the book. It’s that way for me with a lot of books. When I don’t know how the story is going to develop and I don’t know what’s important, what I should be paying attention to; when I have to read slowly to catch on to what’s going on, when I’m learning all the names and trying to figure out who’s who; sometimes I just lose interest, especially if I have to put the book down and I don’t get back to it right away.

I forget what’s going on, and because I haven’t invested enough time in the characters, it’s easy to let them lie there between the pages of the book. Not yet friends of mine, I don’t yet care about them. I am not cheering for them or getting angry at them. In short, I am not emotionally invested in them.

The truth is, I am not capable of getting too emotionally invested in a book when my worry meter is registering on my kids. No contact from Maddie, Ben and Sarah flying, Rosie and Taylor constantly cavorting with Mardi Gras parade go-ers—it doesn’t take much to divert my attention from why a minister might or might not have killed the abusive husband of the woman he, the minister, had been having an affair with—after the husband killed his wife.

(Hmm, that sounds like the plot of a tawdry paperback, not one of Bohjalian’s finest literary works.)

But then the worries leveled out.

Ben and Sarah had just returned safely to Miami after spending a few days with Rosie and Taylor during Mardi Gras season in New Orleans—including enjoying a crawfish dinner.

“We had 8 lbs. of crawfish, 1 lb. of shrimp, corn on the cob, potatoes, garlic and gumbo,” Ben e-mailed.

I don’t know why news of my children happily consuming mass quantities of seafood makes me happy, but it does.

 And, somewhere along the way, I realized that attending parades is not a high crime activity, so even though Rosie and Taylor seem to be present at every one of them, they are unlikely to get hurt.

But the real source of worry—Maddie—was available for a Skype chat on Sunday and I became more convinced after talking to her that she is fine and dandy on the secluded island of Adang off the coast of southwestern Thailand, snorkeling every day, running out of sunscreen and discovering the delights and joy of jam.

You might recall that Maddie has been a very picky eater from a very young age. (She carried her lunch and ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches every day of elementary school.)

Although not very high on the good nutrition scale, the addition of jam to her small repertoire of edible-to-her foods is a major milestone. But still, I’m thinking, “Jam? Snorkeling? For this you’re getting college credit?” 

So, although my entry into “Secrets of Eden” was slow, it’s now at the can’t-put-it-down stage—a bad place to be on a Monday night when deadlines loom and you’re a woman with little self-control.

It’s hard to be a woman of little self-control married to a man of great self-discipline, one who washes the pile-up of dishes on a Monday night before dinner when he has a meeting to attend and a myriad of stories to write.

The guilt can be crippling—but it doesn’t stop me from diving back into that book—or from contemplating joining Maddie for jam on that secluded island.

  • Front.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
  • Front.bridge.17
    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.eclipse
    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
  • Cecil
    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
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