I finished reading Rebecca last night, and in doing so, put an end to my winter Gothic reading binge. No more mansions burning to the ground! No more storms on the moors, or tortured, aloof millionaires! (No more crazy ex-wives? Somehow, that seems to be an enduring theme in literature in general.) I thought of adding Tess of the d'Urbervilles to the roster at the last minute, but I'm told it's not exactly Gothic, and anyway, a girl's got limits.
Rebecca is a wonderful book, but I'll admit that it's better the first time around. I remember being captivated essentially from the first word; this time I found that the first 250 pages or so are kind of...not plotless, exactly, but...subtle, maybe? Extremely psychological? A friend pointed out that this is a novel that could only have been written by a woman, about a woman--the (nameless) heroine spends so much time in her own head, fretting and analyzing and making conclusions and reflecting on herself, that it's both totally recognizable and kind of obnoxious. Anyway, the ending was still suspenseful and satisfying, and Du Maurier does know her way around a red herring. Isn't it about time for a new Rebecca movie? I feel like there's a whole generation that needs to be exposed to this story, and it would all film so beautifully. With Eva Green or maybe Rachel Weisz as Rebecca? Awesome.
Now that I've finished the Gothic list, I'm craving contemporary writing. I've acquired quite a stack of newish books since October, when I started Dracula: there's the newest Traveling Pants book (which must be preceded by a re-read of the previous two, obviously), The Dive From Clausen's Pier, The Double, Life of Pi, Middlesex, The Eyre Affair (does it count as non-Gothic if it's meta-Gothic?),The Best Non-Required Reading 2006 Ed, and probably a few others I'm forgetting. Truthfully, I probably won't make it through that list without at least a dip or two into the classics. Something about recent literary fiction--its sameness, its subtlety, its emphasis on "moment" instead of plot, maybe--makes me a little bit tired; I can't always tell what's good and what's not, and it all kind of seems the same anyway. In the case of Contemporary Fiction Overload, I just bought a beautiful hardcover copy of The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty to keep me sharp, and I have unread George Eliot and Cormac McCarthy waiting for me as well. Basically, I have so many things to read, I may never set foot in the library again.*
For the present, I finally decided on The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger, which I picked because I've heard good things about it and also because I love the name Audrey Niffenegger. It feels so light! I settled into bed with it last night and zipped through the first 40 pages. Forty pages in one sitting! That alone makes me love it (though it's also rather pleasant reading so far).
*Yeah, and the Giants may win the World Series this year.