Blue Car Syndrome

Thanks to Greg at The New Dork Review of Books for calling my attention to this fantastic article on David Grossman.  Grossman will be part of my TPR Challenge and would have been next if our public library had had a copy of To the End of the Land.  Grossman is one of those authors who, for whatever reason, I had completely bypassed until this TPR thing.  When I was making my list, I chose this book because I knew it was due to be released in September, and I was looking to get in a few really new books.  Since then, I've had a strong case of Blue Car syndrome.

What? You don't know about Blue Car syndrome?  It's like this: you've been fine with your old heap of a car until your husband calls your attention to this new model of vehicle.  It's blue and gorgeous, and you love it, but you're not really thinking about a new car right now, are you?  Then, like magic, you see that blue car 10 times on the road in the next week.  Where did they all come from?  You'd never seen one before, and now, they're everywhere.  Surely they didn't just all appear?  No, of course, they've always been there; you're brain just didn't identify them before.  Well, David Grossman is my blue car.  He's apparently been here doing amazingly beautiful things for some time now, and I just didn't identify him as worthy of my attention.

Guess what, folks?  He's got it now.  And I just found out that my university library has a copy of To the End of the Land, so you can guess what's up next in the great TPR Challenge.

And since we're on the topic, I'll be glad to reveal to you that I am currently reading Alice Munro's Too Much Happiness.  It is a collection of short stories, a form I never seem to tire of.  And Munro is an author I hadn't read yet.  Don't ask me why 'cause I certainly couldn't tell you.  The first story, "Dimensions," was quite fine; it had that round, full feeling of a ripe watermelon.  It's all there, and it's all good.  The second story, "Fiction," didn't really do much for me, but that might have been because I fell asleep reading it the first night and had to finish it the next day.  A short story should be consumed in one setting, and a divided reading hinders the whole experience.  The third one, though, just about knocked my teeth out.  I was reading it while in the lobby of my daughter's ballet school.  I sent her off with her little bun and slippers and then I squirmed - literally - as I read this story.  I felt like the whole room was trying to read over my shoulder.  Even though the two ladies to my left were thoroughly absorbed in their conversation about being pregnant and having babies and the woman adjacent to me had her own book, I felt I must somehow hide the contents of the story from their eyes.  I felt they could see through me.  The story is called "Wenlock Edge" in reference to a Housman poem the narrator reads midway through the story.  I'm not familiar with this poem, and I'm glad to not be.  If the poem had resonated with me at all, I probably would have been unable to finish the story.

And here's the thing: I don't want to tell you anything about it.  It unfolds, unravels, unclothes itself before you as you read it, and to allude to the plot would be the death of it.  So, I won't.  But, if you have this collection or are interested in it, let me urge you to read it - or at least this story.  Just try to choose a more suitable time and place, perhaps, than I did.


  1. I've been interested in Alice Munro's work -- I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on this, too!

  2. You certainly have me curious about that story! I've been meaning to get to Munro for some time - I've heard such glowing things about her. But unlike you, I am not a huge fan of short stories (don't hate them, just don't love them as much as novels), so I've put her off. Must remedy that one of these days.

    And I was very intrigued by the Grossman interview in TPR. Since reading it I've eyed the Grossman section at the bookstore a number of times, but have yet to commit. I'll be very interested in your comments on his fiction.

  3. Almost finished with the Munro collection now and have actually tired a little of her tone - it all has such a feeling of foreboding, but covered with a lightness of touch that is deceiving! She's making me nervous just walking out of my office.

    I've actually got To the End of the Land at my elbow, so it will be up next for sure. I am eagerly awaiting this first Grossman experience and will look forward to commenting on it.