like i said, keep your shirt on

T

his is a wanted book.

Not by the public, necessarily. I haven’t checked the New York Times bestseller list so I can’t speak authoritatively to that. This book is wanted by the Albuquerque Public Library system as it is, of this writing, almost three weeks overdue.

If I’m being entirely honest, it was actually overdue before I started reading it. But sometime between its due date (toward the end of November, I can’t remember exactly) and my finishing up this YA thing to get to it, this 10 Best Books of 2012 list came out and NW was on it.

The thing is, our library system does not allow you to renew a book if there is already a wait list that has built up behind it. I was fifth in line for Zadie Smith’s latest novel when I got my hands on it in November so you know that some sort of a queue has built up for it in the meantime. But how sorry am I really supposed to feel for these people who, like me, are too cheap to go out and buy their own damn copy?

Wait your turn!

I’m a quarter of the way through and I can tell you that there’s no way this story is going to end well for any of these characters. I’m not sure why I’m so hell-bent on finishing it—except for the fact that it is everything everyone is saying about it. The characters are closely observed, it’s Joycean in chunks (I mean, as much as I understand the term ‘Joycean’ in referring to Ulysses, in particular, and the author, more generally; I’ve never read a thing by the man) and the writing is so good it makes me as uncomfortable to read about these miserable, disconnected people as it would if I were forced to sit in the same room with them.

But, come on, one of the ten best books of the year and I’m going to return it 120 pages in?

Keep your shirt on. I’ll return it. Maybe even next week.