Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fin d'été

I want “the best” for myself in these “golden” years. Hence the new suit and other new clothes, the new table linens, cutlery and all the fine dining I have been doing. But as well as the (affordable) best for myself in the way of material things, I found myself only wanting to read, again, “the best.”

When I was a kid, I read a lot; bookshelves lined my bedroom walls. I read all text. I had, as is said, a voracious appetite for it so it surprised no one that I got my degree in English literature.

After graduation, I abandoned literature and became an obsessive consumer of non-fiction. I would binge on authors and subject areas. I read everything published by Heroes such as Oliver Sacks, Margaret Visser and Simon Winchester. I read twenty-seven books on aphasia, perhaps thirty on botany and for dessert, biographies of genii. Oh, the titles I could list here….

Then, on a trip to India and bereft of reading material, I picked up a book by P. D. James—choosing, I thought, the least objectionable of the titles available—and I became hooked on her. I read everything and the switch was thrown back to fiction. That was not so long ago.

When I read At Swim, Two Boys, by Jamie O’Neill, I felt that for me, I had found “the best,” which is the topic of this post. It was so good I had a bit of an Irish accent when I spoke after reading it. I thought I could never read another book after that, that nothing could ever match it.

That feeling happened again after I read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vergese and finally with Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. After Angle of Repose, I stopped reading for two years because I loved it so much I did not want to soil my mind and eye with “lesser” work. (I am a man of passion.)

So I have finally dared to crack a spine after these past two years of savoring the memories of Lyman Ward, and I am excited about reading again.

I am also getting a clearer and clearer idea of my “chair project.” Life is good.

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