Abigail Adams: A Writing Life

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

For the first time in several week, I have actually remembered to put up the end-of-the-week count on Wednesday. I'm considering this a personal victory even though it really isn't.

For the week:


PAGES - 1,885

For the year:

CHAPTERS - 5,554

PAGES - 70,151

Today's book, "Gelles, a senior scholar at the Institute for Research on Women & Gender, Stanford Univ. provides a literary-biographical analysis of Adams's letters. She shows that Adams began as a relatively traditional wife, though one in a marriage based on choice and mutual friendship, but was then transformed into a farm and investment manager for her family, hostess for her ambassador husband, and confidante and adviser when he became the second President of the United States."

Shallow thoughts:

  • Today I discovered that trying to read a book, and write a coherent blog entry, on only a few hours of sleep is a very bad idea. And I think it may have skewed my feelings on today's book - which I didn't hate, but didn't love either. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had felt more awake, so I will add it to my list of books that I'm going to read again when this year is up - and then I will promptly misplace the list and it will never be seen again.

  • And now, we simply must discuss the cover of today's book. Is it just me or does Abigail look a little bit like a man in drag? I think she has a face that's just crying out for bangs, or something to soften her and balance out that oddly shaped head. All in all, it's a totally unflattering portrait, which must be such a disappointment. It's bad enough wasting time on taking a picture that turns out badly - but can you imagine posing for hours for a painting and having it come out looking like you have a head that's shaped like a light bulb?

  • While reading the excerpts from Abigail's letters, I had the same feeling I always have when reading the private correspondence of someone who lived a long time ago, guilt. It feels so wrong to be rifling through some one's private letters like this - although that guilt has never stopped me from continuing to read them, not even after reading this sentence, "She would have been mortified had she suspected that it would be read by any person other than her husband. . . " - This set off an internal dialogue in which I debated back and forth whether the author could have possibly known if Abigail would be mortified or not, followed quickly by more guilt over using some one's private words for my own personal amusement, followed by a ten minute daydreaming session in which I tried to imagine what people in the future would think if they rifled through my own personal correspondence. Here's what I think they would be thinking: 1. She has really crappy stationary - why does all of her stationary look like it was bought by a ten year-old girl who is going to write to her first pen pal (which is clearly a question for the ages, and one I still can't come up with an answer for.) 2. She spends entirely too much time watching crappy TV and then forcing others to hear about it. Why doesn't she develop some standards (another question for the ages.) and 3. Does she ever get sick of the sound/sight of her own rambling? (answer: Yes - but she is unable to control it.)

So, dear readers, I am unable to decide whether I should recommend today's book or not. I think if I was rating it, I would give it a 5, but factoring in the tired factor (in which I hate everything but TV when I am tired), I think I would have to put it at an 7 or 8. Do what you will with that information.