After the death of William Wirt Winchester, his wife Sarah inherited vast amounts of money including a sizable interest in her deceased husband’s firearms company. She also received a spiritualist warning that as long as the construction on the family palace in San Jose continued, she would escape death, possibly from the ghosts of those killed by Winchester repeating riles.
I first heard of the Winchester House in grade school when a student shared the story about stairways to the ceiling and doors in the walls with no rooms on the other side. Several years later on a family trip to San Francisco we drove past the house but didn’t take the tour. Years after that I saw the house again, standing in the midst of typical suburban sprawl: strip malls, multi-cinemas, car dealerships.
Old Sarah didn’t even last out the 1920s.
I was musing earlier that I seem to be flexing my reading muscles, almost as if I believed books could fend of impending doom (and Covid-19) as long as I kept reading. I noticed that my reading lists were apparently trying to catch up on all those titles I have always intended to read but never got around to: Dickens, Zola, Oates, Rutherfurd, Powys, Proust, James, Cooper, Radcliffe, Spillane, Burney, and on and on.
Could this be true?
Here is my reading pool for April:
- The Canterbury Tales: A Retelling — Peter Ackroyd
- Other People — Martin Amis
- The Man Who Walked Through Walls — Marcel Ayme
- The Giant Rat of Sumatra — Richard L. Boyer
- Suggested Reading — Dave Connis
- Hard Case Crime: Nobody’s Angel — Jack Clark
- Our Mutual Friend — Charles Dickens
- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius — Dave Eggers
- The Third Rainbow Girl — Emma Copley Eisenberg
- Judgment Day — James T. Farrell
- Black Rain — Masuji Ibuse
- The Draining Lake — Arnaldur Indridson
- Dairy Queen Days: A Novel — Robert Inman
- Ice Station Zebra — Alistair MacLean
- Flynn’s World — Gregory Mcdonald
- Nymphomation — Jeff Noon
- The Book of Disquiet — Fernando Pessoa
- When She Was Good — Philip Roth
- Loitering With Intent — Muriel Spark
- Acceptance: A Novel — Jeff VanderMeer
Does it seem desperate? Well, over half of the titles came from my must-read-urgently-someday list and the full list was actually almost three times as long and I artificially arranged the final list to appear more in control. Besides, I’m on lock-down here in my little rooms: what else have I got to do?