Rush Hour Reading

I’m trying to read a book a week on the streetcar on the way downtown each morning. The feeling of finishing a book is a splendid one and if accomplished during a morning commute, shunts my day into the success category before most people have even struggled to their desks. Very little needs to happen in my day after such a feat, in order for it feel like a good one.

In general, rush hour streetcars in Toronto are not something you want to experience, unless you are partial to being squished, four to a square foot, in an unventilated space, with shiny advertising executives sneezing in your ear. The King Streetcar is essentially a battery farm of polished 32-year-olds, trundling towards another day of desk oblivion. This is not a scenario I find especially pleasing, particularly at 7:55am. Conveniently, I get on the “Red Rocket” early enough along its route to be able to grab a seat and so avoid the majority of adman sneezes. Often the trip is brightened up by commentary from a crazy person shouting and spitting his or her way to Bathurst or Spadina. My favourite last week was the one who kept bellowing, “People, Jesus Gonna Eat Yo Brains!”

This week I read Tony Earley’s Somehow Form A Family.

The rating: A lot out of 10.

The why: So many descriptions, scenarios, characters that will stick with me from this read. His too-ambitious-for-a-life-she-couldn’t-escape Granny Earley. His finding God at a desperate moment in his life (although I neither feel I have mislaid or need to find anything godly myself). His hunt for ghosts and proof of ghosts in New Orleans. Like me, Tony Earley lost a sibling young and has never quite been able to put that loved lost person truly to rest.

The summary: Overall, I found Mr E a thoughtful and entertaining distraction from the coughing, hacking commuters crammed onto the King streetcar with me each morning

Next up is Hooman Majd’s The Ministry of Guidance Invites You To Not Stay (An American Family In Iran).

Hopes: High. I am pro-books about experiencing different cultures, especially when the book is about time spent exploring or experiencing a culture that is, theoretically, one that you’re supposed to be a part of. Also, the Iranian-born Hooman previously wrote a book called The Ayatollah Begs To Differ. Good name, Mr H.

Lined up after that I’ve got some fiction on the slate/table, Christopher Jansma’s The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, Jonathan Franzen’s overlooked (only by me, obviously, pretty much every other human with eyes has read this one) The Corrections, and Ruth Ozeki’s All Over Creation. I love Ruth Ozeki! Her My Year of Meats (or Meat singular if you are a person with North American eyes) is one of the books I have most enjoyed. Why have I not read All Over Creation before? Because I am a fool. Also in the teetering stack before me: Eric Weiner’s “travel/foreign affairs/humour/self help” book The Geography of Bliss (One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World), the lone representative of my more usual reading non fiction/travel genre.

Sneezes, seats and crazy ladies-depending, I shall report on the next tome soon.

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