Our Reading Lives

Reading Dystopias and Then Picking Up Your Kids

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Rachel Cordasco

Staff Writer

Rachel Cordasco has a Ph.D in literary studies and currently works as a developmental editor. When she's not at her day job or chasing three kids, she's writing reviews and translating Italian speculative fiction. She runs the website sfintranslation.com, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re a dedicated reader, then you’ve experienced that weird liminal state in which you’ve just put down an intense book and you have to start a totally different task. It’s…a strange feeling. You need to give your brain time to readjust- no no, brain, no more dragon-slaying, it’s time to cook dinner! Or brain, please stop trying to figure out who murdered that dude and write your lesson plan!

Life certainly does get in the way of reading, doesn’t it.

But one of the weirdest transitions has to be putting down a dystopia so you can pick up your kid(s) from preschool. The way I work it is, I time it just right so that I arrive at the preschool early enough that the toddler naps and I can read before it’s time to retrieve the tornadoes that are my twin boys. This usually works.

dolly-cityBut then last week I started reading Dolly City by Orly Castel-Bloom (translated by Dalya Bilu) and it is intense and grotesque and surreal and I’m feeling this book both physically and mentally.


That’s right. I had to stop in the middle of reading about Doctor Dolly’s crazed, hallucinatory exploits through a twisted, dystopian Tel Aviv and immediately walk into a building that screams SUNSHINE! SHOW AND TELL! ARTS AND CRAFTS!

It was extremely disorienting.

I did this two days in a row, and both days I staggered in to the preschool, dazed, dizzy, holding a toddler and forcing my brain to understand that the dystopia was on hold and now it was time to put on my happy smiley face and ask the boys about their day and their snack and who they played with etc. etc.

So I can only imagine what the teachers must think of me when they see me come in. It just goes to show that books really can pull you into another world, and returning to this one isn’t always easy. Especially when those worlds are a billion miles apart.

But I like my fiction intense and engaging. I guess the teachers will just have to assume that I’m weird and leave it at that.