I've been long absent because--in part at least--I went to China. I had planned to take advantage of the high-speed connection from my room at the China World Hotel in Beijing, but it turns out that China blocks access to blogs, especially the better known services like Blogger and Typepad. So no luck. If I had been able to post, I might have said something about:
Responsible Men, the novel by Edward Schwarzwald I finished on the flight from Dulles to San Francisco. I'm doing a review for Shenandoah but I will say here that it was a fine book. Not earth shattering, but very well done; it's about a man who finally matures, long after he should have, and does the right thing.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, which I read on the flight from San Francisco to Beijing. I really liked this one, despite the unlikely premise. It is finely crafted (with only a slight tilt toward cliche), romantic, but with wonderful character renderings.
Songs from the Black Chair, a memoir by Charles Barber, and In the Middle of Everything, another memoir, by Michelle Herman. I read these while in Beijing and can't say that either one of them really grabbed me. I'm supposed to review them though, so I need to come up with something to say . . .
The Way People Run by Chris Tilghman, a collection of stories that has some standouts and some weak spots. The title story is excellent.
Beijing was hot and stormy and hazy and polluted, but it was a good trip. The work (a little World Bank consulting) wasn't terribly taxing, so it was a laid back week.
But then: the flight home on Saturday was delayed 2 hours, which screwed up connections in Chicago. Got to Dulles after midnight (dreading the 2.5 hour drive home to Staunton) only to find a flat tire on my car in the economy parking lot. Shit. Got that squared away and limped home (going the requisite 50 mph on the temporary spare), finally arriving at 5am. Ugh. And then I had to hustle to get ready to head down to the Tinker Mountain Writer's Workshop, from where I am now writing, and about which more later!