Reading Matters

Having just finished reading a highly entertaining crime mystery called Death at La Fenice, the first in the Commissario Brunetti series by Donna Leone (which I do recommend) I decided my next pick should be something with more gravitas, preferably by a Nobel Prize laureate, because God forbid I should read two “light” books in a row, just for the sake of entertainment. There are several options for me to pick from, whatever the genre since my private library is becoming quite well stocked. I picked J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace. I knew I wasn’t going for light reading with that choice, and right there from the first words was introduced to a protagonist who at fifty two years old is a has-been professor who mostly gets sex from prostitutes and hits on his own students. Why I decided I need to read this book and ended up buying it in the first place is something of a mystery to me. Sometimes I like to give myself a challenge like that. When I’m not feeling great, using the excuse that “I need to read the novels that have been most influential” I tend to go for really heavy-duty reads—The Bell Jar comes to mind as a fitting example—and I do it as a way to measure how intellectually and emotionally solid I am. i.e. if I don’t fall into an even deeper despair than the one I’m in, then I must be doing well and otherwise, well… too bad I guess. Needless this tactic all too often backfires. So I’ve decided to let the wisdom I’ve acquired through extensive trial and error guide me this time. So even though I picked it up, and even though it’s featured prominently on my reading list, and even though I’ve read a whole chapter of it… I think I’m just going to set it aside for now and pick something else. I’ll keep Disgrace for some other time. Maybe for when I’m feeling “too” happy or hopeful and need to pull myself back to reality. All I do know is I must at all cost keep my mind busy because the second there is an intermission it starts throwing really hurtful stuff at me and lately, that’s taken the form of imagined conversations between various people I know wondering how it could possibly be that it’s taking me that bloody long to get it together and get back to work already. And while I’m tempted to try to respond to all the gossip, I have to keep reminding myself that none of it is real, and there’s nothing to respond to. You’d think that would be simple enough but it’s amazing how hard the most simple things are to do—or not do—in some cases. Well, best get another book to read then. There: Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. That should do.

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