So I’m plodding along with Proust’s second volume of In Search of Lost Time. At about the halfway point, there is this beautiful moment of insight (the entire reason for reading Proust to begin with) where the narrator (Proust himself of course) describes the love he has for his grandmother. It should be required reading for anyone with a heart. Here it is:
“I knew, when I was with my grandmother, that, however great the misery that there was in me, it would be received by her with a pity still more vast; that everything that was mine, my cares, my wishes, would be, in my grandmother, supported upon a desire to save and prolong my life stronger than was my own; and my thoughts were continued in her without having to undergo any deflection, since they passed from my mind into hers without change of atmosphere or of personality. And — like a man who tries to fasten his necktie in front of a glass and forgets that the end which he sees reflected is not on the side to which he raises his hand, or like a dog that chases along the ground the dancing shadow of an insect in the air — misled by her appearance in the body as we are apt to be in this world where we have no direct perception of people’s souls, I threw myself into the arms of my grandmother and clung with my lips to her face as though I had access thus to that immense heart which she opened to me. And when I felt my mouth glued to her cheeks, to her brow, I drew from them something so beneficial, so nourishing that I lay in her arms as motionless as a babe.”
More reading lately has included a Lynne Tillman collection that left me vastly underwhelmed. It was called Someday This Will Be Funny. I think it’s me. I’m flat out done with stories about relationships when all that’s depicted is the relationship. I'm done with the New Yorker stories. Those days of literature are over. Show me the relationship through an oddly colored lens or a broken mirror and then show me how that lens and mirror are really the people we’re talking about, something like that. Something original that goes beyond he said she said. Carver and the gang wrote that stuff out so fast even Updike was surprised.
On a better reading front I’m fully into the Kafka situation. I read The Trial a few years back and it seemed muddled to me at the time. I put good ol’ Franz aside after that for a bit. I read a biography of his that took me forty years to finish and left me entirely convinced that Franz Kafka was the absolute biggest wimp of all time. And a cry baby. And narcissistic beyond the limits of all imagination. But when I recently went back to his work I found it to be delicious. So beautifully strange and weary and perfect. I will say, however, that it’s nearly impossible to find any sort of collected works of his to buy. I’m just patching it all together the best I can.
That’s really the only points of possible interest with my reading lately. I abandoned a book called Double Wide by Leo somebodyorother. It was too much genre for me, and not in a snobbish kind of way. It was just too blueprint without enough uniqueness. And somehow it won what’s called the Silver Spur Award for best contemporary western. No idea how that would have happened.
Books I’m still working on and will be throughout the rest of the calendar year because I read slower than anyone you know:
Infinite Jest (much funnier than I thought it would be); Anna Karenina (Tolstoy is masterful above nearly everyone else); Within a Budding Grove (Proust vol. 2).