Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reading on Trains

Since my hands can't handle winter biking without massive pain, I've been at the whim of the CTA for my daily work commute. This means I can read as I move, and I've been wishing that the El would run slowly again like it did in the fall so I wouldn't have to get off so soon. Earlier in the winter I read Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon. For a 950-page book it really flew by, because it's a page turner, and because I was already familiar with many of Stephenson's favorite themes, prejudices and archetypes. Also because it made me think abstractly and inwardly, and thus block out the calls of, Fullerton is next. Doors open on the left at Fullerton. Transfer to Red- and Purple-Line trains at Fullerton. This is a Brown-Line train to... Sunnyside and Crescent.

Well now I'm reading Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire, which makes me want to look around myself, even though it's hard to think of a place more different than Abbey's lonely Utahan desert than Chicago. Lyndon gave me this book for Christmas. Among my brothers and me, only John can give gifts that aren't infused with his own ideology. But back to the point, this book makes me look out the windows. One light bulb after another in the subway. The neon 'B' in the word "Cubs" on Wrigley Field is out. So are the last two letters of "Storage" on two different sides of the same building near the Sheridan stop. I look out the right window until I see the Uptown Tattoo Factory, then out the left at Truman College, shuffle out of the train, bound down the stairs. To my left and across the street, Uptown Bikes. To my right, on this side, the Wilson-Broadway mall, a visually-but-not-aurally-loud cluster of convenience food and discount electronics purveyors.

I am not getting through this book very quickly.

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