Books are deceptively tidily-packaged keystones of great power—and, if you’re lucky (as I consider myself to be), years of reading will arm you with presentiments about what a protracted brush against that power might do [to] you. And I had that hunch with The Bell Jar. I’ve known everything there was to know about the novel before I read it, and every little thing was bad news for someone like me. Call it readerly superstition, call it a far-too-strong awareness of my own psychological climate: I stayed away from Plath’s novel because it was about me.
And once I closed the book, I went back to the little gauge in my soul. There was the usual hum that runs through you after a good and/or timely book. But beyond that: I felt strange—both superior and self-pitying; I looked at all the teenagers that swarmed that coffee shop, all those souls that would never ever need to be scared of a book like The Bell Jar—all for naught or otherwise. [Continue reading.]
1 From Undercurrents: A Life Under the Surface, by Martha Manning: Depression is such a cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to send people scurrying in concern. Just the slow erosion of the self, as insidious as any cancer. And, like cancer, it is essentially a solitary experience. A room [...]
Note: The following post shall be more of depository for random oohs and aahs and quotables than anything else. So, if you want the summary: Yes, I liked this book a lot. Hee. “The first thing,” the author writes, “that reading teaches us is how to be alone.” To be alone. To read. To get [...]
A few moments after I carefully peeled the protective plastic off William Styron's Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, I wrote in my notebook: I feel like this is going to put me in the wringer. Odd to hold a slim book in your hands and think, "This is going to beautiful that it might [...]
There are characters you "approve of" or admire as an element of the craft, there are characters you'd marvel at if they were ever real, there are characters who become human. And then there are those characters that you identify with, whether this damns you or not. Craig Gilner, the fifteen-year-old protagonist of It's Kind of [...]
I thought I wouldn't finish reading Shopgirl by Steve Martin this soon, but there's nothing like a procrastinator's heart coupled with a pile of (school) required reading to get you through a book, fast. More importantly, this book charmed my socks off. I liked it. A lot. And that's amazing because I thought I wouldn't. [...]