12 November 2016

Paying attention

If you've been paying attention to the sporadic things I write here, you know I've had a pile of books on my desk to write about. I managed to cut the pile in half and write about my current reading until I uncovered Åsa Larsson's The Second Deadly Sin. Well, you didn't know about that last bit since I haven't written about Larsson's book until now.

I picked up the book and looked at a fierce bear on the cover and tried to remember something about the book and my experience of reading it. Nothing. Had I really read the book? I must have, I told myself, or it wouldn't have gotten to the pile of books already read.

Okay, so I'll skim through the beginning and I'll remember. Nope. Okay, I'll read the first few chapters and it will come back to me. Nope, again. Had I read this book? So, I started over and read the book. It wasn't until I got to about page 350 (out of 375) that I remembered reading some of the book. If I'd paged my way through the book looking at the words, I hadn't read it. But there's a devastatingly awful scene near the end of the book involving a murderous assailant, a five-year-old child, a beloved dog, and a severely injured cop that I'll never forget, even if I forget where I read it. I won't forget again. I was paying attention this time.

Larsson tells at least three stories in this book. One of them is two or three generations back. Others are contemporary, one involving murder and another involving overreach by an overly ambitious detective. When I paid attention to the stories this time, I was able to keep track of the stories and understand most of the complex connections Larsson weaves among them.

The first half of the book seemed a bit slow. Maybe that was getting started and introducing all the characters and scenes (all in Sweden, by the way). The story telling in the second half of the book moved right along. I wondered how I could not have paid attention. Where was I? What was I preoccupied with? I have no clue. I wasn't paying attention.

I liked the book this time. I was paying attention this time. I remember admonishing my students to do more than "look at the words" when reading. I need to remind myself of the same thing.

Have you read The Second Deadly Sin by Åsa Larsson? Were you paying attention enough to tell us what you thought of it? Write. Tell this little bit of the world what you thought.

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