26 June 2006

Priorities

I've had a vague sense of panic for the past few days now, and it's only increasing. Vacation time is severely limited and I have yet to finish reading one book since I've been north. Bookstores to visit, books to buy, and the growing stack of library volumes by my bed are all clamoring for my attention, distracting me from settling down long enough to finish anything.

Then there's the personal writing I'm doing, long talks with family, the chipmunks in the backyard, and an impending trip to Boston. I'm in the process of realistically judging which books I should read first--the ones I will kick myself for not getting to. I've been scouring used bookstores for things to take back down, and even bought my first full-price book in a very long time: David Markson's Reader's Block. Granted, it's a nice sort of problem to have, but I'm finding that going from scarcity to overabundance and back again is severely nerve-racking.

So back to the books! Specifically, this one:
Carson listened in fascination to Wystan's pronouncement that detective stories were virtually the only type of novel that he cared to read. Most other kinds, particularly American novels, lacked interest in his opinion. He disliked Steinbeck's work, for example, since he did not believe that novels could successfully deal "with inarticulates or with failures." Moreover, he was struck by the utter loneliness of American literature. Emerson, Hawthorne, Melville, James--American literature was "one extraordinary literature of lonely people." That was not necessarily a criticism. It was the destiny of all Western nations, as the machine age developed, to lose their traditions, their connections, their allegiances. America was just ahead of the rest of the world in highlighting man's aloneness, his real condition. [...] Carson, far from being offended by his lack of interest in novels, drank in his remarks about American literature and thought a great deal about them, both at the dinner table and later in her room. [...] Contrary to Auden's opinion, Carson felt that, in a sense, inarticulates and failures may be the only people worth writing novels about. But she also knew that their inability to formulate feelings made it difficult to portray them.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have that same sense of panic! What is it about summer vacation that makes one more aware of the fact that there are so many treasures to read and so little time to do so?

Carrie said...

Oops! I meant to attach my name to that last comment! Sorry Ana! Hope you are enjoying your visit North.