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Pickle Me This

August 18, 2006


Sometimes I know that systematic reading is just an excuse to be a book glutton. Don’t think I don’t know this. I love hotdogs more than anyone I know. I am a bit out of control; I’ve taken up reading whilst walking home from work, but I haven’t been hit by a car yet. Has actually been quite fascinating. I have no problem following the text and navigating myself through the world, and everybody gets out of my way. It adds five minutes onto my half hour walk, but the five minutes are well spent.

Margaret Drabble is just as bookishly gluttonous as I am however. I know this because I got my latest letter from Bronwyn today, and my text-based treat was Drabble’s essay “The Radiant Way and After”, from the 1999 anthology A Passion for Books by Dale Salwah. Containing such declarations as “I am unhappy unless I have a book about my person”, and such fears as being caught in a lift sans book. She goes on to write about not loving books themselves so much, and vandalizing them something terrible, how our early reading affects us, desperation for (any) books while abroad (the same desperation that led me once to read “The Assassination of Marilyn Monroe” in Salzburg). And how it’s not a passion for books she has as much as “a passion for print”. When she was in Japan, she wrote, being unable to read was akin to being deprived of a sense and she found it hard to function. She finishes, “I need print like an addict. I could live without it, perhaps. But I hope I never have to try.” And now why I love Bronwyn is evident.

Now rereading Franny and Zooey. I read Wonder When You’ll Miss Me by Amanda Davis yesterday, and really enjoyed it. I wasn’t expecting to, and didn’t at first. This book was an expansion of a short story I had already read, and I found it difficult to get past that. I sort of felt like I was trespassing. And the beginning of the book was awkward, disjointed. I knew that the main character would run away to join the circus, which I didn’t think would be particularly interesting. I feel the same way about books that take place at circuses that I do about books that take place a magical boarding schools in mystical lands, but this is where the combination of Davis’s extraordinary story-making, story-telling and writing skills proved enormously effective. This was an excellent book. It made circus sideshow performers absolutely human, and had plenty of pachydermic content, which is always important to me.

Books in the news: On that difficult second novel. I like the idea of book biographies, but then again, I would. The Geek hierarchy. Poetry workshop in The Guardian. Most these links stolen from Bookninja and Maud Newton. I’ve been busy. Now that Stuart has a job, I have to do housework again. Yawn.

We are going to the island this weekend!

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