Regarding longing

Regarding longing

Consider the peculiar dangers of provoking desire through the books one reads; how words on a page can remind you of a longing you thought you’d long ago calmed, or tease you into considering the weight of someone else’s gaze, or galvanize you into crossing a once interminable distance to take the wrong person’s hand in yours and confess a wanting. Consider this unflinching definition of desire, brought forward by Siri Hustvedt via the very first line of an essay: “Always a hunger for something, and it always propels us somewhere else, toward the thing that is missing.” (And, here, remind yourself of Anne Carson declaring, “Desire moves. Eros is a verb.”) See yourself armed—first with your library, and then perhaps (of course) with your longings. And then, please, consider yourself in a reality where you moved, arms laden with the books that compelled you. [Continue reading?]



There remains shame in bewailing one’s difficulty with reading—never mind that stepping into books has always been a salve, a sanctuary for my sanity, my exhausted-with-feeling soul—more so the overwhelming gladness that a semblance of a reading life has returned, in light of all that’s happened. This is the shift, I suppose, when one belongs to a nation in mourning: Everything shall be [must be] held against that light. [Continue reading.]

The Hustvedt essay

The Hustvedt essay

Desire has long been Hustvedt’s forte, from her novels and threaded through her nonfiction. And the essays in this collection are so unmistakeably-to-me Hustvedtian: They’re essays in the blessedly conventional sense—the simplest route from writer to reader. Here are a host of subjects in a deeply personal voice, exceedingly intelligent, more than a little sensuous, and familiar all throughout. Desire weaves in and out of the essays—“Living,” for her musings on family life; “Thinking,” for her reflections on the making of and the appreciation of literature, the academe, as well as her disarmingly easy relationship with neuroscience; “Looking,” for her meditations on art. Again: All of them fascinatingly eloquent, and all of them unafraid to draw from Hustvedt’s own life. No shame to tell the reader that this was how she felt as she thought. This unabashedness, coupled with her goddamned intellect, never fails to send happy shivers down my spine. [Continue reading.]

On The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

What to say about The Summer without Men, favorite author Siri Hustvedt’s latest? For one, it’s unlike any other novel of hers I’ve read. In fact, although I love this novel, if you’d taped over her name on the cover, I wouldn’t have known this was a Hustvedt book. That’s a compliment, I guess, yes—although [...]

A call for an “abiding uncertainty” — On A Plea for Eros by Siri Hustvedt

Where does the need to write come from? What is it? It is a need, not a choice -- it’s giving way and a giving up. As I mentioned elsewhere, I have reunited with Siri Hustvedt, c/o her collection of essays, A Plea for Eros. Another favorite writer -- I’ve read all of her novels [...]

Some choice certainties about good books, ineloquence in the face of said good books, and me having read — and still reading — some good books lately

Have reunited with Siri Hustvedt, and it feels so good. I'm running out of her novels to read [I have one left on my shelves], and I'm branching out to her nonfiction. Here's a passage, from "Being A Man," from her book of essays A Plea of Eros: As a reader of books, I'm convinced that [...]

Sasha might be enjoying reading the “About the Author” pages a smidge too much —

[This is all obviously off the top of my head. Hello, lazy weekend.] [And thanks to The Boyfriend for letting me borrow his Robert Lowell poetry books for yet another fuzzy book pictorial.] You know the whole la-dee-dah about letting the text speak for itself, the author being dead and all that jazz, the Not [...]

Three Different Books, Three Different Kinds of Silences I Need to Break

Because sometimes, I don't have the words. And sometimes, what words I have are inadequate. And sometimes, I just want to keep on lying down, with a look of horror / loneliness / disappointment on my face, intent on just letting it all soak in. I like these books, for different reasons -- the emotional [...]

postscript || The Imagined Previous Life of What I Loved, Which is Stained by Something I Don’t Bother Identifying

So, like a lot of my books, I found this one in a BookSale. In fact, Hustvedt has become one of those authors that I have to rely on bargain bins for. Either overstocks or previously-owned, these books have gone through lives of their own before they came to me. Which brings us to this [...]