Sunday, January 31, 2010

Answer #26 - Because Neruda is Shiny

The books
pile up.  Fearful
pages that discourage
lion hunters.
in four hundred volumes.
In the first ones,
there were full moons,
jasmine from the islands;
the last one
are only solitudes:
snow kingdoms,
stirrings of reindeer.  -  Pablo Neruda

They're calling me.  The books on the wooden end table from my mother that sits next to my bed like a camel.  The lamp and shade like a long neck and head, two stacked lumps of books sent or given by friends that I should read.  That I will read.

Someday soon.  I've made it a resolution this year to read more and talk less, but, as you're currently experiencing, I'm still talking.

Still - the books wait.  In two piles - The Earth is Enough by Harry Middleton, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche, The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins, The Importance of Being Iceland - Travel Essays in Art by Eileen Myles, Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon, Michael Keller's graphic adaptation of Darwin's Origin (this one is absolutely bitchin.  Origin in comic book form?  Holy Galapagos, Fitzroy!) Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett and a dog-eared and taped-up copy of The National Audubon Society's Pocket Guide to Constellations (because I almost always have my head in the clouds).

With the exception of Pratchett and Audubon, these books weren't purchased by me, aren't reflections of my browsings of the NY Times Book Review, nor reflect my finger on the pulse of current literary buzz.  These books are reflections of the minds and choices of my friends, the people I love.  It's a great show of confidence on their parts, sending these love letters to me.  They're assuming much.  Starting with the assumption that my attention span exceeds that of my dog's.  And that's a big one.

So why the short attention span?

I spend so much time working, making phone calls, answering emails, being distracted by shiny objects - that I neglect the books, quite literally forget that I should stop and read.  Sometimes forget where and who I am.  So the books collect dust and bottles of lotion, bits of jewelry and kleenex while I wander the mirrored halls of my funhouse brain.  In those fleeting minutes when I'm back with the world, I walk by the bedroom, hear the murmuring in the pages (a murmuring that Terry Pratchett depicts better than anyone ever will) and, well, even as I write, they're calling me.

I can imagine the friend who gave me each book running down a path in a snowy wood, calling back to me, 'Come on! You've gotta see this... it's amazing...'

And now I have to go, because everyone knows that a dog's gotta chase a running thing.

First stop, Iceland.


  1. Wow. I'd think you were channelling my brain, only you are way funnier than I ever am.

    If it gives you any hope, I knocked one of them off my huge pile the other weekend (only 15 months after it was loaned to me, by a high-up boss no less). Maybe you've given me enough inspiration to start on another this afternoon.

  2. Just read this on the BBC, "The Beeb" as they call it- "Sir Terry Pratchett says he is ready to be a test case for assisted suicide "tribunals" which could give people legal permission to end their lives.
    The author, who has Alzheimer's, says he wants a tribunal set up to help those with incurable diseases end their lives with help from doctors." "Unseen" is classic Terry; I'm not sure if he's prepping for his departure or what, don't know what my own stacks of books-to-be-read would be without a Pratchett on top of it. Chessley

  3. I'm with you, Chessley. Hope he's not departing, either. There's a great interview on-line, wherein he's discussing his Alzheimer's - things he can no longer do. He has a great perspective, but it's still heartbreaking. I thought Nation was going to be his last, and was happy happy when Unseen came out. BBC's doing 'Going Postal' - the stills look great. They've done a great job prior - Hogfather and Colour of Magic... Graet stuff. xx

  4. That is always my resolution, too, and so I break it down to the daily goal of reading 20 pages a day. It's very doable, and the one year I really did read 20 pages a day (during the last year of my marriage and I was avoiding interaction with my husband in every way possible) I read more than a book a month. I highly recomend this tactic.

  5. Not the tactic of ignoring your husband. Just focusing on 20 pages a day.

  6. Checked out Sky one's site on "Going Postal"... Richard Coyle as Moist.. Brilliant.



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