But You Do Read Simenon

images-3.jpgOctober was a messy month and I’m thinking that all the months from now on may be messy (although not every month will have a hurricane pointed right at me). At the start of October I convinced myself that there were no more books to suggest. In some ways this might be very true: it’s often leaked into my gray cells that I should just recommend reading Ulysses once a month and ignore all the other entertainments.

But that would immediately reduce the regular visitors to this website to just one or two. Even I seldom reread Ulysses more that two times in any given year and even the suggestion of once a month has me climbing my bookshelves for that new edition of Proust I bought a few years ago.

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Blame It On Michael

images.pngI sit here in my library/office/sunroom at a built-in desk with a large screen tracking news or showing movies and a smaller screen displaying my current reading and an even smaller screen flashing notifications and announcements. But then on the wall on ether side of my desk there are hundreds of real ink and paper books I want to read but my aging eyes balk at.

Often I just sit at my desk and, like circling wishes in the Sears Christmas catalogue, mentally adding books I want to take down from the shelves, open flat on the desk, adjust my desk lamp, and absorb myself in the text.

On any month I have several disturbances to my regular reading plans, some I fight off and others I give into.

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Here Comes Michael

IMG_6048Back in the fifties and sixties Michael was a very popular name for boys. Generally the very unscientific analysis of boys named Michael suggested either boys that were always getting into trouble or, later on, boys that whined a lot. My own experience with boys named Michael is a boy who grew up somewhat uneventful and now demonstrates his rebelliousness quietly reading Ezra Pound and Allen Ginsberg.

But almost without warning a new Michael is rapidly growing in the Gulf and heading right for my house.

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Tin House Is Poison

Tin House Volume 20, Number 1: Poison

TH77-Cover-800x1030One night after I’d turned off my reading light but not yet sunk into sleep, an uneasy feeling swept up my back. I was accustomed to the sweep of shadows along the walls as the train emptied its passengers and they marched by my windows and cars braked at the corner stoplight, but one shadow had stopped, its source blocking the stripe of light at the corner of my closest window.

‘Hey, baby’ a voice murmured from outside. ‘Are you sleeping?
—MELISSA FEBOS, Intrusions

Poison is in everything, and no thing is without poison. The dosage makes it either a poison or a remedy.” So said Paracelsus, the sixteenth-century Swiss physician credited with creating laudanum. In our toxic times, it seems as if there are very few remedies and that all is, indeed, poisonous. What, then, must writers do? Come up with remedies? Use the poison to cleanse, to heal, or simply to attack what is attacking us?

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