I had never heard of the term “TBR Pile”, but I certainly was well-acquainted with the monster.  It was the lovely and funny Helen  and her blog that first made me aware that there was a term of art for that mess on my bedside table waiting “to be read“.  My pile has gotten especially out of hand lately, but really, it isn’t my fault.  Blame it on e.e.cummings.
There is a part of my personality that is admittedly…eggheady? nerdy? out-of-touch?  Call it what you will, but I confess to the fact that I sometimes get a kick out of reading incredibly dense and obscure literature. For the past 3 months, I have been lost in the morass of words that is e.e.cummings’ bizarre novel, Eimi: A Journey Through Soviet Russia.  Most of us know enough about cummings’ poetry to know that he makes up words, combines words, inserts punctuation where they don’t seem to belong, and plays havoc with spacing.  He’s not easy.  Well, this “authobiographical novel” is 452 pages of it, and to be honest, although it actually describes his 36-day trip to Soviet Russia taken in 1931, nothing ever really happens.  He leaves Paris for Moscow.  He meets some strange characters.  He eats bad food and drinks too much vodka.  He struggles with the authorities and then finally makes it back to Paris.  And he does this with his own made-up language based not only on English, but also on snippets of Russian and French.  Like I said, it took me 3 months to plow through it (although, thankfully, I was able to take a few breathers to read books written by friends, as I’ve mentioned here before).  So why did I do it, you might ask?  Is it just perversion and neurosis that forced me to persist in my struggle and neglect those other books “tbr” crying to me, siren-like, from 6 inches away? Is it my own fascination with Russia which (hopefully) some of you will experience when you read Tangled Roots?  No, I persevered because Eimi is absolutely bloody phenomenal!  His use of language is astonishing.  His ability to create suspense out of nothing is amazing.  And, really, it’s very funny.  I hesitate to recommend it lest I start getting annoyed postings.  But I do believe it’s worth taking a look at, even if you don’t make it all the way through.  It’s a masterclass.

And now for something completely different……
As a follow-up to my last post, I want to thank Vanessa Gebbie for her interview of me on her blog.  It is incredibly generous of her and much appreciated — not to mention great fun. Check it out if not only to get a glimpse of what Tangled Roots is all about, but also to see what Vanessa is all about.  She is one writer really worth getting to know.
That’s more than enough for now.  Enjoy your weekend!