I’ve kept up the wonky momentum of January—characterized by good books and really good books resolving to nudge away a smattering of meh books—up until the start of February, but I’m seeing the possibility of even that faulty system flagging. This is, I am aware, an as-faulty observation—since three of the four books I’ve read since the month began were really, really good books. It’s only that, I suppose, I’ve more recently been mired in books I can’t bring myself to care for—books that I have been excited for, and books that would really be for me if some secret thing inside me wasn’t so listless lately. I look at my bookshelves and think horrible thoughts, among them: How can I be so drawn to all of you, but nothing at this moment appeals? [Continue reading.]
Yes, the kind of reading I’ve been doing lately is one that, primarily, seeks to reassure myself that Real Life and the myriad terrors it’s been serving up lately can be staved off—even vanquished under the onslaught of words, words, words. Although, haha, I don’t know why I gravitated to the three up there, as collectively they seem to be tailor-fit to depress the bejeebies out of me. Davis’ novel is about a man who hates his job and whose marriage is falling apart (and there is no assurance of a happy ending); Shields has constructed a manifesto on the kind of writing I have long ago forgotten how to do; the Plath is infamously about a young (promising!) woman who descends into a crippling and vividly described depression.
Done. I have no idea what just happened to me—what happened, period. All throughout, I kept telling myself it was difficult to surrender to this book, not only because I couldn’t understand why it was saying what it was trying to say, but also because I couldn’t trust it fully. Surprise, surprise: In Shields’ begrudgingly provided afterword to “his” manifesto: “This book contains hundreds of quotations that go unacknowledged in the body of the text… Your uncertainty about whose words you’ve just read is not a bug but a feature.” [Bet that really hurt, having to say it so baldly, and because of legal constraints, too.] So, at least, there’s that. [Continue reading.]