Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Paradox


I don't know what to attribute it to, but my depression seems to have lifted.  It has something to do with fiction reading, but I am never quite sure how this works. I do know that when I am not in the middle of a novel, life is dark, and I am dissatisfied and full of self-loathing. Yet, when the darkness descends, I cannot find a book I want to read. I plod through several first chapters and nothing catches. Like Sendak's Pierre, I don't care.

I have a friend who understands my thing about books and my sometimes inability to read even though reading is one of my life's greatest pleasures.  When I saw her at Christmas she gave me Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan Novels, knowing that I was deep into not being able to read. Despite the fact that everyone - even people I know and generally agree with - loves these books, I had no interest. I knew it would be pointless to even try.

But six weeks later, on a three-hour flight home from Florida, I managed to distract myself with an Elizabeth Bowen novel that I grabbed from my mother's library on the way out the door. Though I finished it at home, I remained in thrall to the darkness. Something must have been shifting though. A few days later I began Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend, which I am still enjoying, and today I noticed that I am back to my normal.

This is what happens. I have to trick myself into reading in order to find my way back.





5 comments:

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry and I was sorry to finish it. It is difficult to know where to go next. I start a few but generally discard after 30 or 40 pages. But I know another good book will come along sooner or later. Maybe it has in the form of Frederic Morton's "Thunder at Twilight - Vienna 1913/1914". I'm now on page 62 which is a very good sign. Much good luck with your reading.

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  2. I do not remember having this problem when I was younger, but maybe that's my failing memory. What intrigues me is the link between my fiction reading and my mood. Nonfiction is out of it completely. I am reading for information, then, not emotional or psychological engagement. I hope you enjoy Morton's book.

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  3. I know exactly what you mean and suffer this problem too. I mostly buy from secondhand bookstalls now because I know that so many things I try to read will be discarded after only a few pages and if buying new I find it very hard to make a decision on what it is I want to read. The secondhand stall is good in that I don't know what it will throw at me. My reading taste has changed dramatically and books I once would not even have considered reading I now find the most satisfying.

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  4. I'm intrigued by your changing reading taste, Rachel, and would love to hear more about it. Do you find that you still love books that you loved in the past? I can't imagine re-reading To the Lighthouse and not enjoying it more than ever.

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    1. I cannot answer this very well in just a comment. However, yes, books that I judged to be great literary works in my past remain so. If we corresponded by email I would tell you more.

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