Well, here we are, Dear,
And here we’ll remain: it seems, at least until the weather lets up some. I am quite enjoying the Disaster aspect of winter this year, especially since it has prompted my family to stay put and not come barging in expecting cheer, and food, and jollity. Which means Christmas will be spent in a tete-a-tete with the cat, and all the more leisure to bury myself in a book or two. But the question remains – which?
I am sorely tempted to go back to Buddenbrooks, since nothing better’s been written since.
But my conscience tells me I should be trying something new. Have you tried The Boat by Nam Le? It’s supposedly excellent. Or The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by the Barbery woman? Or, God help me, The Help by some American or other? (The last one worries me a bit, according to reviews it is about women and coming to realisations, two of my pet peeves).
I was thinking about you the other day and wondering if you might help me with a little problem of mine. You see, I am loosing touch with reality! It is quite terrible, really, or the terrible thing is, at least, that I don’t find it so.
I can focus on nothing for very long except the books, and lately, they seem to be sucking me in, a kind of vortex, where the characters and situations of my fictional friends seem much more interesting than my real ones. And I find myself not caring a bit.
For instance. I care very much whether my reading material is well written, and not a hoot for the dishes – even though dishes left out is a very real hazard to both health and the aesthetics of the home – whereas the stylistic failings of a book are really neither here nor there.
For instance number two: I find myself filled with emotion – a kind of emotion I haven’t experienced since reading Uncle Tom or the Wind on the Moon – at the death of this or that character. Whereas old friends in life may drop of without much more than a soft sigh from my part. I suppose it is: we know humans die, but there’s no reason for our fictional friends to do so, so it seems that much more of a waste.
Now I am wondering: should I embrace this slow fictionalization of life? Or should I struggle and take up tap-dancing or some such? Is it preparation for death – surely a fictional state – or is it just laziness? Or is it, having finally arrived at a stage in life where you cease to hope for perfection, you transfer your energies to fiction where perfection might still be achieved?
So sorry to hear about your lack of sleep. If you are looking for a fail-safe cure, I’d recommend the delightful Tristram Shandy, which I know you love, as night time reading. As you know, it is so well written it will keep you amused, but doesn’t it also moves at such a slow pace you won’t be able to keep your eyes open? I believe that is what is called a win-win?