Friday, January 6, 2012

Holding Gloom and Doom at Bay

“Hey, Poky,” greeted my husband the other morning as he inched his way into our living room. I’m not sure why he called me Poky. A reference to Poky Little Puppy perhaps?

“That’s just what I’m reading about!” I said a little too enthusiastically, The Omnivore’s Dilemma open in my lap. “The Poky Feedlot is…”

He didn’t let me finish because he assumed the word feedlot led only to tragic details. “Maybe it’s time for you to read something cheerier.”

What? Oh, well, I suppose feedlots are not the best topic to start the day with. And I suppose bringing up 1950s American civil rights issues the night before as we got into bed was also a poor timing choice. (I’d started reading Nikki Finney’s Head Off & Split.)

My husband continued his argument though he’d already made his point. I’d started a similar debate in my head long before that morning. Much of what I read upsets me, then upsets him whenever I share what I’ve learned. If I don’t share it, then my somber mood says what I haven’t vocalized. To reinstate calm in our house, I needed to rethink my reading list.

So I’m wiping the slate clean. I’m putting aside the remaining books of my “Current Reading Lineup” and starting over. I’ll get to those back-burner books one day (especially Pollan’s work, which I highly recommend). For now, I’ll avoid the library and pull books from my own inventory.

My first choice? Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story by Leonie Swann. Yes, you read that right. I’m still reading about animals. But (and it’s a BIG BUT) the sheep are the protagonists of a fictional whodunit laced with humor and woolly-eyed insights about our culture. All the wooled ones know of the world they gleaned from the stories their shepherd-cum-murder-victim read to them. It’s a refreshingly inventive and fast-paced read. For those of you who have sheep, I would guess this is even funnier, and might prompt you to reconsider some of your flock’s behavior.

Until tomorrow, I’ll be in Ireland with Miss Maple (a very intelligent ewe), Mopple (who has an excellent memory, but an insatiable appetite), and Othello (the mysterious black ram, of course)—my first attempt to bolster cheer and optimism in my home.

[Art by Thomas Sidney Cooper.]

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