Monday, May 14, 2007

"Paranoia/I adore ya/Where the hell would I be/Without you there beside me"

About the coolest thing I can think to say about Demons is that my experience reading it is like being in a relatively constant state of deliriously enthralled mystification punctuated by sudden em-dashes of clarity; it's like I'm reading the novel through the most slightly tattered gauze. Meaning eludes me and importance defies me, and yet, I'm thoroughly snagged. What I can't tell is whether that gauze is there due to my failings as a reader (irregular reading schedule, bouts of laziness and/or exhaustion), certain unavoidable cultural/temporal division (mid-19th century Russia versus, uhm, Cleveland), and/or authorial intention (Dostoevsky doesn't even want to know what's coming next). It's the sort of thing that might be terribly off-putting, if it weren't for those dash-shaped holes in the fabric between me and the words, those moments when it's all clear, for a moment, just what's on the line, what's (maybe) at stake here. That momentary feeling that even though I know it's not all going to connect, it's still all connected, in a constant state of connecting. Elusive as dandelion gauze in a stiff literary breeze.

Callie asks who or what you'd most like to spend your time re-reading; what books warrant a second (or third or additional) look, even in the face of all those other books that are still waiting for you to take them out on even a first date. I sort of answered over there but I'll rephrase a bit here: if I had to pick two authors whose catalogs I think I could most consistently lose myself in, I think I'd go with Dostoevsky and Kazuo Ishiguro. Because even as I'm reading this book this first time, I'm already looking forward to re-visiting it someday, to seeing how much more I might get through another pass. I just read Crime and Punishment and When We Were Orphans last year and yet, yikes, itching for another read, already. And this is to say nothing against the single-read authors/books--many single reads are brilliant things and should in no way feel slighted by my lack of interest in revisiting them. (Like for instance I'd maybe toss most all of David Foster Wallace in this category, whose books I liked/loved but I don't really feel any need to go back there again, except of course for Infinite Jest, which 80 years from now I'll still be saying I'm going to re-read, one of these days.) It's just that some things really do seem to demand additional attention.

So I'll extend and advance the question in the hopes of sparking a lively comments section that will mask my recent blogging shortfalls. Desert island authors: go!

3 comments:

Matthew Tiffany said...

John Grisham!

Wait... what?

Derek said...

Also Dostoevsky. Abso-freakin-lutely. As much as I look forward to re-reading Infinite Jest, I look forward to re-reading The Brothers Karamazov almost as much, and Notes From Underground just because I didn't fully 'get it' the first time I read it.

Vonnegut. Fairly quick reads - a rare thing for me - that still always make me think.

Saramago. Not a lot seems to happen in his books (the ones I've read so far, anyway), his dense prose and unconventional style is always a challenge, and his asides or comments-as-narrator are frequent, but I love the nuggets of wisdom often contained therein. Makes me want to go back and re-read them - this time with a highliter close by.

Arukiyomi said...

Just finished Crime & Punishment myself and Notes from the Underground shortly before that.

Worth careful reading I'd say...