Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Am I Playing Turtle?
I haven’t been inspired about blogging lately. Has it showed? Life has been full of serious matters that I didn’t feel like blogging about but couldn’t put out of my mind. The Scarlet Letter got me through two posts, the story taking me elsewhere for a while and bringing interesting literary questions to mind. Literary questions can be a nice change from personal concerns.
Looking at my list and bedside stack I see that re-reading has become a theme of the season for me. Anna Karenina and The Scarlet Letter were both novels I’d read before. I’ve read Ellen Airgood’s new novel, South of Superior (which will soon be available to the rest of you nonbooksellers), twice since receiving my advance reader’s copy. I’ve been dipping into de Toqueville’s Democracy in America and underlining sentences, something I never do unless, as in this case, it’s an old, falling-apart pocket paperback copy. A new friend in Australia—we are friends although we have not met in person—sent me Three Came Home, by Agnes Newton Keith, so I’m reading again for the first time in several years the author’s account of her three and half years in a Japanese prison camp in Borneo, and I have a stack of modern classic American fiction lined up to re-read: Catch-22; The Sun Also Rises; and Call of the Wild.
David tells me that all my re-reading isn’t doing much for the publishing industry. Well, I’m impatient for Elizabeth Buzzelli’s new mystery novel, Dead Dogs and Englishmen, coming out in July, and Bonnie Jo Campbell also has a July release scheduled, a new novel called Once Upon a River. We all have to wait until September for The Windward Shore, by Jerry Dennis, and even longer for a couple of new Jim Harrison titles, but there’s a new Jack Driscoll coming, The World of a Few Minutes Ago. I need to check the release date on that one....
["Grownups don't use ellipses," Jim Harrison said once. Uh....]
What is my point? Maybe I have two. The first is that re-reading is like visiting old friends, and I’ll never give it up. It can be a great comfort and not altogether undemanding, either, as old friends always bring new questions to us as we go through life. My second point is that there are going to be plenty of new, exciting books coming out in the months ahead, and I’ll be diving into those, too. With relish. You can bet on it.
Elvis has left the building.