Arthur Conan Doyle, in his preface to The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes: "I fear that Mr. Sherlock Holmes may become like one of those popular tenors who, having outlived their time, are still tempted to make repeated farewell bows to their indulgent audiences. This must cease and he must go the way of all flesh, material or imaginary." The insistence: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson would go, as would their stories, and would remain gone. And now: I have read all of the canon. That is: There are no more Sherlock Holmes stories for me to read, for the first time. [Continue reading.]
“For myself,” Marcel Proust writes, “I only feel myself live and think in a room where everything is the creation and the language of lives profoundly different from my own, of a taste the opposite of mine, where I can rediscover nothing of my conscious thought, where my imagination is exhilarated by feeling itself plunged into the heart of the non-self.” I feel immensely giddy that I am allowed a more literal interpretation: I am in the mad throes of love with my room. The good books are better, and the blows are softened when I’m with the books that don’t like me so much. I’m savoring every moment I have in this room, and I’m looking forward to the days and nights-into-days of reading that it will host. Sure: The detritus will find a way to rise, inch across my desk and on the floor; the books will ever so surely contrive a disarray; Real Life will intrude and I’ll be too weary to even try to stop it. But—and, yes, almost a chant of mine now—I will keep reading, I will immerse myself in what Proust rather earnestly dubs as “merely the noblest of distractions”—for as long as the floors gleam, for as long as I have a clear view of every book in the room, for as long as that red chair will hold me. And even after, of course—of course. [Continue reading.]
Am really thankful to Ana and Iris for launching Long-Awaited Reads Month again for this year—because there’s nothing like kicking off the year burdened with glorious bibliophilic purpose. I’m enamored by the whole point of the project—to read that book you’ve always told yourself you’d read, that book you’ve always wondered about, or that book that’s been on your shelves forever. It’s a great push, too, and there’s an added weight—a kind of optimism—attached to every #LARMonth read under your belt. No pressure, of course, Sasha. None at all. [Continue reading.]
The “Currently Reading” counter on my Goodreads account has morphed into tally of bibliophilic failures; since the tail-end of January and all throughout February, the books themselves have been shuttling in and out of my bags, on top of desks both at work and at home, beneath my pillows, beside the bed, on the floor, and until recently—in the case of poor Simenon—where I keep my underwear. They’ve gone to and fro Quezon City and the heart of Manila, they’ve sat quietly inside my bag, beside computer cords and my make-up kit and chocolate bars, while I sat through meetings and had dinners both welcome and not. They’ve been opened, marked, closed, then set aside in favor of other books. [Continue reading.]
Franzen, I’ve found, shies away from an indulgent narrative about families—about his family, here in particular. Snidely, I think: His essays need to have reach—they shouldn’t only be about the Franzens. And so: Family dynamics should naturally draw on Snoopy and its creator. An awkward adolescence—too enlightening, really: who knew Franzen was such a big dorkus?—dignified by an examination of the youth group he belonged to. Selling the house his mother had spent nearly a lifetime to build—a house full, no doubt, of his mother’s disappoints—should lead to a dissection of real estate in America. And, goddammit, troubles with his wife should veer into bird-watching in them good ol’ United States. [Continue reading.]
Currently reading: The Discomfort Zone by Jonathan Franzen; and Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust, translated from the French by Lydia Davis. • I’ve had a rather triumphant week: I’ve been (*holds breath*) blogging regularly—mostly driven by chants of “It’s the principle of the thing, Sasha!”—plus the very thought of the rest of 2013 continues to inspire in me a hope that it’ll get better, reading-wise. (Life insists that it will look up as well, but I’ve heard that before.) [Continue reading.]
I began reading both books right before the year ended—on top of promises to myself that I’d finally wrap up Rowan Moore [architecture] and Richard Dawkins [science]. Those promises fulfilled, I then leapt to Hornby [nerdiness], mostly because I couldn’t help it. Proust and Flynn—the latter I bought on the 31st because I was afraid I’d get bored during an lonesome late lunch—moldered in my overnight bag until I went back home in the new year.
Rest assured, I duly chastised myself: You are doing your shoulders no amount of good, Sasha. You can at least read something and make the pain worth it, please. We all have ways of motivating ourselves; my terrible posture happens to be among the most effective. [Continue reading.]