Tag Archives: what i’m reading

I’m Rich

My Grandma Howard used to say — chortle, really — ‘I’m rich,’ when referring to her six grandchildren. Funny, because she was a mostly unsentimental person about family and everything else (and also because she was rich, money wise).
I’m reading a book* about a man who has suffered a violent assault and is recovering at home, full of pain and rage, his memory addled. All he wants is to return to what was once so unremarkable he was entirely unseeing of it: his ordinary life. He wants to be just a man putting on his jacket before leaving for work in the morning, stopping to rinse out a coffee cup and check his pocket for keys. Unremarkable except when it’s all gone and you no longer have a job to go to or the ability to make coffee or the dexterity to use keys or the mobility required to walk down a sidewalk on your own. I read in this both a caution and an invitation. Notice all these things, they are not yours forever (the bad news). Don’t dismiss your ordinary blessings because you’re too busy wanting other things. Also (and the good news): while you have them you are rich indeed.
*The Witch Elm by Tana French

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Storyholic

I have a horror of landing someplace without a book or streaming device or a way to write — a way to distract myself with a story. The more tired I am the simpler the distraction must be: an Instagram feed works well. Embarking on a 20-hour trip to Shanghai, I have 3 physical books, 5 novels on 3 platforms (Hoopla, iBooks, Scribd) and episodes downloaded to Netflix and Amazon Prime. Good to go.

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Jerkish

 

“Humanly impoverished” is one of the ways novelist Philip Roth describes Donald Trump in an email to Judith Thurman for a New Yorker article. Further, per Roth, Trump is:

“…ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English.”

I’ve always admired Roth but, at the same time, felt excluded from Roth’s world, even as a reader: I’m too fond of resolution, kindness and civility. I react to him in the same way I react to overly (in my estimation) sardonic, sarcastic, cerebral but dark-world-view-professing people in my IRL. Why? I don’t know. I’m not the sunniest of all sunbeams. Perhaps it’s a lack of confidence in my own intellect. Insecurity, let’s say, the root cause of so much human conflict.

All that said, I’ll put “The Plot Against America”on my reading list.

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Philip Roth

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I think we are well-advised

…to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be,” Joan Didion wrote. “Otherwise they turn up unannounced.”

Joan Dideon

Joan Didion

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I’ve always wanted to do this

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Arranging a bookshelf by color, that is. Makes for some odd author couplings: Anne Lamott squashed by the Chicago Style Manuel (she’d hate that), Philip Roth’s When She Was Good lying under the Violet Fairy Book.

Another thing to think here: I’ve officially run out of things to do. Oh suburbia, I am so over you (I know I said this last Sunday too).

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