What I Happen to Be Reading At the Moment

"A thirteen-year-old is a kaleidoscope of different personalities, if not in most ways a mere figment of her own imagination. At that age, what and who you are depends largely on what book you happen to be reading at the moment.”

 

While not 13 anymore, the desire to read almost anything and everything in order to read for fun and for experience is still around. I'm currently working on my PhD in a physical science, but I love to read and books are one of my non-science hobbies.

In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods

In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods - Matt Bell Back when watching a monster movie on a Sunday afternoon after the homework was done was an achievable luxury (so YEARS ago), I came across Prophecy, a gem from 1979. Here is some classy monster movie poster art: So a scientist hired by the EPA goes out to the Androscoggin River in Maine to figure out if a paper mill or something is going to poison everyone with mercury. An astute viewer might be able to conclude, why yes. Instead of the usual, mutant bears attack! To top it off, the EPA scientist brings his wife along. She eats the fish with mercury in it, and she's trying to find the right time to tell her husband that she is pregnant. Those warnings about pregnant women not eating fish from some lakes because of the high mercury content? Well, they both remember now. So, mutant bears and potentially mutant babies!Why am I going down memory lane about a bad monster movie when reviewing In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods? There are some striking parallels. The woods, the bears, the challenges with pregnancy. Except, In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is better. I mean, I do miss a good terrible mutant bear suit, but the old movie was scary because bears jump out and attacks things while looking gross. In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods is scary because it quickly goes from being transgressive and disgusting to something deeper and more universal. A husband, a wife, and a cabin in the woods. This will not go well. How spectacularly wrong, though, comes from the unnamed husband's reactions to his wife's frustrations with conception. She constantly miscarries for no explicable reason, and the husband can do nothing to help and stands by as she self harms as a coping mechanism. Pregnancy after pregnancy fails, the husband's thoughts are relatable and seem to be no different than the same emotions a husband would go through not in some scary isolated woods. There are fairy tale elements as well, from the role of the fingerling and foundling to the creatures in the forest that surrounds them. There are definitely some violent, Brothers-Grimm-type elements to this novel, making a compelling mix of psychological realism and fantastical occurrences. Layer upon layer of plot are put together to build a compelling novel that fills over 300 pages in a captivating way. I would never have picked this up on my own, but the quality of writing and manipulation of traditional genre tropes makes In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods more than worth it. (Also, I have no idea how that movie ends because I had to go off and do something else, and these were the days before useful ways of recording TV programs. Good thing I can find out now on the Internet!)

Currently reading

Native Son
Richard Wright
The Great Glass Sea
Josh Weil
The Elder Edda
Anonymous, Andrew Orchard