Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Need a Change

I'm struggling to keep my head above water lately, and it occurrs to me that I might want to think about lighter reading material. I have been trying to pinpoint what it is that I love about mysteries. There's the fact that the good guys may take some losses, but they always win in the end. The real draw, though, is in the revelations of human nature through the investigation and in people's reactions to it. Also, living people are constantly changing and unpredictable. In the case of the mystery, at least one person has stopped changing. What you find out will hold true to the end.

I picked up the other day a copy of Elizabeth George's thriller, With No One as Witness, for a dollar. It has been several years since I read one of her books, which are always tightly written. This one is a great read, but the quote on the frontispiece should have been my first clue that it might be darker than is good for me right now:

And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you. --Friedrich Nietzsche

With a serial killer that targets adolescent boys, the book was certainly dark. I also read it right after watching an episode of Bones (mystery, romance AND a forensic anthropologist - a bonus for this former student of cultural anthropology) in which the victim was a young boy. The combination is enough to get any mom down, especially a mom of boys. I had also read last week, one of Kathy Reichs's mysteries (on which the series Bones is based), Grave Secrets. So, lots of sick, dangerous people, dead people and decomposition. Hmmm.

I'm not likely to give up on mysteries. My bookswap has another one in the mail to me, now as a matter of fact: one of Beverly Connor's books with another forensic anthropologist, Diane Fallon solving the crimes. But I think I will take a break, and reread some Jane Austen, maybe watch Notting Hill for the twentieth time. Maybe I should just sit down and build Legos with the kids, or take them out on a hike.

It's easy enough to change what I'm reading, or seeing on TV. What I long to do now, in the midst of everything, is start everything over - move, get away from all the reminders of what has gone wrong, what I have done wrong and the hopes I had for things to go right. That's not so easy, or even possible, as we have to live with who we are and what we've lost. Even the mysteries, once everything is sorted out in the end, have to acknowledge that.

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