Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cognitive Dissonance

I've been experiencing some cognitive dissonance lately.  It's Barbara Pym's centenary this year and I decided to re-read all her novels.

If you haven't made her acquaintance, do so now.  Here's the Wikipedia entry about her life, and a link to the Barbara Pym Society of North America.  I can't praise her enough.  She wrote of very small worlds, examining the daily existence of spinsters, clergymen and anthropologists in exquisite detail.  Philip Larkin considered her one of the most underrated novelists of the 21st century, akin to a modern day Jane Austen.  I concur.  When I finish one of her books I want to drink tea (preferably with a vicar), have a boiled egg for supper, attend church, and learn to knit.

Why the cognitive dissonance?  Well, I don't want to read all of Pym's works in one go.  Each book is short, less than 300 words, and often around 200-250 words in length.  I like to savor them.  So I intersperse them with something as completely unlike Pym as I can find, which means Lee Child.

That's right, the Jack Reacher series.  There's no subtlety to a Reacher novel.  He's a drifter who winds up in the some of the unlikeliest places in America - small town Georgia, rural South Dakota - where he finds trouble with a capital "T" and proceeds to solve it with knives, guns and fists.  He's the strong, silent type and his character has not changed one iota from book #1 to the current release.  I confess I can't read these fast enough.  Child has a gift for simple direct language that moves the plot along faster than a speeding bullet (did I really say that?).  Well, it's true.  You may quibble with some of the logic, but you can't fight the torrent.  Just let the plot sweep you along and enjoy the ride.  When I finish one of his books I want to drink strong coffee, take a martial arts class, eat bacon and eggs, and travel without a suitcase.

You can visit Child's website here.  Needless to say, I do not own either of the pictures contained in this post.


  1. Do you mean 300 pages, maybe? You've got deadlines and editor demands on the brain, don't you? :^)

  2. Derp. Of course, I do. And I do have a deadline. Yeah, that's it. The deadline made me do it.