Tuesday, October 03, 2006

just in time for halloween

I am listening to The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova on cd. I borrowed the audio book from the library, ripped it onto my pc and uploaded it onto my mp3-player. I read pretty much non stop, but almost never listen to books. The problem has always been that I'd put it on in the house during naptime and then try and get work done--like lugging laundry baskets, washing dishes, whathaveyou--and I couldn't hear the book playing on the stereo in the living room. Then I'd have to rewind and blah blah blah. But, the mp3-player fits right in my pocket, or when no pocket is available in the handy mp3-player cozy I crocheted for it (because that's the kind of nerd I am).

On Saturday it was gorgeous out--in the 80s. The kids and I did a six mile bike ride, if you can believe that (!) -- a seven, five and four year old riding six miles with Dairy Queen, very UN-coincidentally, as the turn around point. When we got home Paul took them up to the Platte River to catch frogs and splash in the tiny trickle of a river. We've worked out a nice trade off a system so Paul and I both get some freetime. So, I sat in the warm backyard by myself, rocking in a rocking chair, crocheting and litening to The Historian. I got tired (what? how?) of crocheting and decided to go the grocery store so we could raost weenies and have s'mores for dinner. And you know what? I just got up, mp3-player in my pocket, grabbed my keys and went out the door without missing a word of the novel.

It was very surreal to walk through the grocery store, under the fluorescent lights with the high shelves full of neon packaging while listening to this particular book.

It's about Dracula.

A thing I do less than listen to audio books is have anything to do with horror at all. Paul and I made an agreement to not watch horror movies anymore about seven years ago (I remember because the deal was sealed after we watched Blair Witch when we were living in Idaho). We've maybe watched two or three since then. And horror novels....? Simply unappealing to me. I read a couple Steven King in high school, simply because my brother loved them and owned them all and I thought I should see what the fuss was all about. Scary? Sure. Creepy? Yeah. Well written? Uh-huh. But not my cup of tea.

But I am really enjoying The Historian. It's about an academic who gets drawn into researching the historical Dracula. He thinks it's crazy. But strange events keep happening around him, pulling him into a world he had no intention of joining. It's narrated in a story within a story form, which is brilliantly done. A father is telling his daughter (the main narrator) about his past exerience researching Dracula, often by quoting his academic advisor who first told him of Dracula. It switches between those three voices.

I seem to be the perfect audience for Kostova. I love literary novels. I'm not normally interested in horror and niether are her characters. So we all get slowly, slowly drawn in together. The father and daughter move all over Europe, so there's a travel logue element as well. And it's all set in the world of academic research--kind of like Posession by A.S. Byatt in that respect.

It is getting continually scarier and creepier. It's so well done -- if she'd started in straight away with neck bites and bats I would have rolled my eyes and turned it off. The story is so compelling I can't wait to put in on. And the last few chapters have been so exciting I felt like we must be reaching the climax and end of the novel--and then I realized I'm only on disc 9 of TWENTY TWO!

So, there you have it. An Ocotober book suggestion: The Historian by Elizabether Kostova.

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