UPDATE 12/9: Welcome to readers who are here because of my Sunday Spotlight column. And if you’re a books fan, be sure to check out Rick Bentley’s story about a Fresno State student who shares her 1,000-square feet apartment with almost 10,000 books.
The intro: I envision this occasional series as kind of a “virtual” club of people bound together not so much by common titles but simply a love of reading. I tell you what I’m reading, and you tell me, and we get a sense of satisfaction by knowing there are other people out there who love text in an image-based world.
I get very excited when The New York Times comes out with its list of 100 Notable Books of the year. But I also feel a little overwhelmed. There are so many books to read and not enough time. And while I enjoy keeping up with current titles, there are so many older books clamoring for my attention that I just sort of sigh and dream about a life spent reading.
It turns out I’ve only read one book on this year’s Times list: John Irving’s “In One Person.” I’m an Irving Loyalist through and through — I read every one of his novels as they’re published. Like most of my reader friends, I have a special affection for his earlier works (ah, the thrill of reading “A Prayer for Owen Meany” for the first time), and I’ve been a little less enraptured with some of his newer stuff, but I always come back for more.
That said, “In One Person” is a solid, gripping read. It’s funny, surprising and very sad. Irving’s narrator, a headstrong young man named Billy Dean, lives in a small Vermont town in the early 1960s, goes to an all-boys private school and has an extended family of rather eccentric characters. (His grandfather, owner of the mill in town, is known for playing women’s roles in the local amateur theater society.) Oh, and there’s a wrestling subplot. (Does all this sound familiar?)