I had an elderly Jew at my synagogue read his grandson’s bar-mitzvah’s speech to us, telling us how though larger society has now adopted the Jewish notion that a person needs days off from work, it “has yet to recognize the importance of how it keeps its rests.” Though not always a fan of the particular Jew who read this speech, I do totally believe that to work hard enough during the week to justify a day or two off, so that those two days include one religious day and one day to relax only, has been a great service to my life. Anyway, it turned out this week things are not going exactly as planned. The Cantor at my shul is having a class based on a book This is Real and You are Completely Unprepared, a book roughly 300 pages long. More, I want to finish Renia’s Diary. So it will be next week when I turn to The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History. Yet I am thinking before The Napoleonic Wars I will do some “fun” reading: The Last Unicorn and Thomas the Rhymer. At some point I plan to read The Dog Master and The Overstory. Yet I plan to finish The Napoleonic Wars and Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts before getting back to The Dog Master.
Without going into my next “research” book, my friend Cynthia is always dogging me that I need a “rest” book. She is always getting on me about reading only historical books and classics which are widely known. Or at least, that is her perception. I tend to think history is particularly important when I research for novels because I want to get the time and place right in my descriptions and commentary on the times. The ideal writer about Russia speaks Russian, the second order of novelist researches. A person should never assume that because things work a certain way in America, in Russia it is the same story. More, I have researched Russia’s folklore, and I am convinced that it is as central to understanding of the Russian Heart as Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekov, and Solzhenitsyn. More, it is the only literature which could in part have been written by Russian women. To study Russia it is necessary to study A.N. Afanas’ev.
Anyway, my “break” from researching for Tales of the Land of the Firebird Part I represents a “break” of sort… perhaps not the kind of break the grandson of my fellow synagogue congregant member had in mind.