Archive for December, 2009

明天下午六点就坐上赴京的飞机了,将错过学校的联欢活动,这还是理工成立以来我第二次缺席新年文艺演出(上一次是07年在浙大进修)。

将在北京迎来2010,带女儿复查,朋友们帮我安排了元旦的八达岭之行,真的有17年没有去长城了,时光荏苒。

对过去的每一天我都心怀感激,2009是平凡的不平凡,买的唱片是历史新低,我记得可能都不到一百张,肯定不到200张,是最近5年的最低点,而DVD更少,有的几套也都是给女儿看的。突然发现自己连《看电影》、《环球银幕》都很久很久没有看了。

2009让我对人生有了不同的看法,是我成长中的重要年份,突然会在吃完晚饭就躺下睡觉,也会突然在午夜到书桌前奋笔疾书。看懂了很多书,阅读的英文电子书,第一次在一年里超过了200本,也算是个人的全新历史记录。中文书反而只有一百本上下。阅读让我经常沉浸在一种莫名的狂喜中。而这种喜悦不仅是无人喝彩的,而且是无处沟通的。也算是一种“默默的欣喜”。

这一年有了难得的新朋友(我的朋友都是十年以上,所以有新朋友特别可贵),开拓了根本没有想过的研究领域,实现了几个不可思议的梦想,在这一刻回眸,突然觉得无比的幸福。这一年有将近四分之一的时光是在北京度过的。

记忆中最美好的片段是在夏天的一个傍晚,牵着女儿的小手,看太阳从西山旁慢慢落下去,医院对面的公园是小区健身的和纳凉的人群,有跳舞的、有轮滑的,北京仲夏夜的凉风吹拂着我的脸庞,耳机里是Led Zeppelin的老歌,在不知不觉中路灯和星星一起亮起来,而天边的晚霞还映着蜻蜓红色的翅膀,……

新年快乐,我爱的每一个

下午去给思齐代课,结果就下起大雪来,不小心又咳嗽了。忙着写结题报告,真的有点无力感。

一直陪女儿爬山,不知不觉鞋都爬坏了。后来才听朋友推荐,这类户外活动的装备首选并不是NIKE, ADIDAS,而是the north face, nikko, columbia,不过一看都是上千的登山鞋。当然还有更好的意大利的montral,更是没钱而且不懂,外行。

看来看去还是日高比较实惠,虽然穿起来感觉还是不适应,不过很暖和,抓地力也很好。

全副武装,向下一座高山进发!

Fiction

BOTH WAYS IS THE ONLY WAY I WANT IT

By Maile Meloy
Riverhead Books, $25.95.

In an exceptionally strong year for short fiction, Meloy’s concise yet fine-grained narratives, whether set in Montana, an East Coast boarding school or a 1970s nuclear power plant, shout out with quiet restraint and calm precision. Her flawed characters — ranch hands in love, fathers and daughters — rarely act in their own best interests and often betray those closest to them.

CHRONIC CITY

By Jonathan Lethem
Doubleday, $27.95.

Lethem’s eighth novel unfolds in an alternative-reality Manhattan. The crowded canvas includes a wantonly destructive escaped tiger (or is it a subway excavator?) prowling the streets, a cruel gray fog engulfing Wall Street, a “war free” edition of The New York Times, a character stranded on the dying International Space Station, strange and valuable vaselike objects called chaldrons, colossal cheeseburgers and some extremely potent marijuana.

A GATE AT THE STAIRS

By Lorrie Moore
Alfred A. Knopf, $25.95.

Moore’s captivating novel, her first in more than a decade, is set in 2001 and narrated by a Wisconsin college student who hungers for worldly experience and finds it when she takes a job baby-sitting for a bohemian couple who are trying to adopt a mixed-race child. Meanwhile, she drifts into a love affair with an enigmatic classmate and feels the pressing claims of her own family, above all her affectless younger brother, who enlists in the military after 9/11.

HALF BROKE HORSES: A True-Life Novel

By Jeannette Walls
Scribner, $26.

In her luminous memoir, “The Glass Castle,” Walls told of being raised by eccentric and unfit parents. Now, in a novel based on family lore, she has adopted the voice of her maternal grandmother, Lily Casey Smith — mustang breaker, schoolteacher, ranch wife, bootlegger, poker player, racehorse rider and bush pilot. The result ­re­animates a chapter of America’s frontier past.

A SHORT HISTORY OF WOMEN

By Kate Walbert
Scribner, $24.

The 15 lean, concentrated chapters in this exquisitely written novel alternate among the lives of a British suffragist and a handful of her Anglo-American descendants. The theme is feminism, but Walbert is keenly alert to male preoccupations and the impressions they leave on the lives of her female cast. Walbert’s prose, cool and intelligent, captures the many ways we silence and are silenced, the ways we see and hear as we struggle to grasp hold of meaning.

Nonfiction

THE AGE OF WONDER: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

By Richard Holmes
Pantheon Books, $40.

Holmes harnesses the twin energies of scientific curiosity and poetic invention in this superb intellectual history, which recreates a glorious period, some 200 years ago, when figures like William Herschel, Humphry Davy and Joseph Banks brought “a new imaginative intensity and excitement to scientific work,” and literary giants like Coleridge and Keats responded giddily to these breakthroughs, finding in them an empirical basis for their own faith in human betterment.

THE GOOD SOLDIERS

By David Finkel
Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.

Finkel, a Pulitzer Prize-­winning writer and editor at The Washington Post, gives full voice to his subjects, infantry soldiers from Fort Riley, Kan. (average age 19), posted in the lethal reaches of Baghdad at the height of the “surge.” Finkel’s own perspective emerges through spare descriptions — of a roadside bombing or the tortured memories of a single soldier — that capture the harrowing realities of war.

LIT: A Memoir

By Mary Karr
Harper/HarperCollins Publishers, $25.99.

This sequel to “The Liars’ Club” and “Cherry” is also a master class on the art of the memoir. Mordantly funny, free of both self-pity and sentimentality, Karr describes her attempts to untether herself from her troubled family in rural Texas, her development as a poet and writer, and her struggles to navigate marriage and young motherhood even as she descends into alcoholism.

LORDS OF FINANCE: The Bankers Who Broke the World

By Liaquat Ahamed
The Penguin Press, $32.95.

The parallels with our own moment are impossible to miss in Ahamed’s narrative about four members of “the most exclusive club in the world,” central bankers who dominated global finance in the post-World War I era. Ahamed, a longtime investment manager, evokes in glittering detail a volatile time of financial bubbles followed by busts, all of it guided by players wedded to economic orthodoxy.

RAYMOND CARVER: A Writer’s Life

By Carol Sklenicka
Scribner, $35.

Ten years in the making, this prodigiously researched and meticulous biography sympathetically and adroitly integrates its subject’s work with the turbulent life ­— marred by alcoholism, financial turmoil and family discord — that brought it into ­being. ­Sklenicka shrewdly deconstructs Carver’s fraught relationship with Gordon Lish, the editor who played an outsize role in the creation of Carver’s stories, the most influential of a generation.