October 7, 2011
The Withdrawal Method
I knew we were in for trouble once I’d spent most of Monday in tears about the death of Ralph Steinman, co-winner of the Nobel Prize for Physiology. For the next few days, emotions and hormones conspired to make me insane, and were assisted by my having read Lois Lowry’s The Giver and then Tessa McWatt’s Vital Signs, two very different books who share much heaviness in common. By the time I started reading Pasha Malla’s The Withdrawal Method on Wednesday, things were out of control. “Everybody’s dying of cancer in this book,” I kept exclaiming. “I thought Pasha Malla was supposed to be funny.” (Interestingly, reading McWatt followed by Malla was sort of fascinating, if not depressing. Both books share surprising things in common beyond their pictograms, Malla’s first story, “The Slough” in particular.) I wasn’t sure I’d be able to take much more of it, but was urged onwards at a gathering of Pasha Malla devotees on Wednesday night, which was operating under the guise of a reading by Rebecca Rosenblum and Laura Boudreau at Type Books. The Pasha Malla thing I discovered once I’d started railing against The Withdrawal Method in the cookbook section, and was confronted by a league of passionate defenders. Sympathetic passionate defenders, mind you. They understood about the Ralph Steinman thing and that I was operating under a limited emotional capacity at the moment. That perhaps this wasn’t the book for everyone, at every time. And I understood that it was a bit like back in my first trimester of pregnancy when I hated every single book that came my way because I associated all of them with feeling nauseous and exhausted, except that now, of course, I’m the opposite of pregnant.
Anyway, I woke up yesterday feeling much less idiotic, and continued on with The Withdrawal Method, and appreciated it more than I’d ever thought possible on Wednesday. Am convinced that this all really does have something to do with the second half of the book being better than the first, but perhaps that’s just my idiot bias showing. Regardless, I’m following it up with novel by Jennifer Weiner, which is the sort of thing I need right now like I really need a hot bath and a bar of chocolate.