I just heard an NPR commentary by author Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, The Patron Saint of Liars). I have a kind of schizoid fondness for Patchett; she repels me even as she pulls me in. Today's commentary I didn't mind. Patchett, in the course of speaking about a book-loving friend of hers, proposed a special category of books: "Books I Read for Men." These, she admitted, tended to be thorny, tortuous, and LONG.
AMEN! I wonder if each of us has, secreted somewhere in our hearts, a list of Books We've Read for Men (or Women). Below, an expurgated version of mine:
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
A Clockwork Orange
Still Life with Woodpecker
The Brothers Karamazov (ATTEMPT)
Shogun (most of it; unfairly thrust upon me when I was puking my guts out and couldn't lay hands on anything else)
Ugh! Feel free to pass along a few of the dragons you bearded in the name of love.
Still, I don't want to seem too negative. Reading is reading, whomever you do it for. And reading for love (or lust, or friendship) is a generous act, a way of sharing, if only for a few hours, your mental space with someone else. Besides, the Kundera wasn't all that bad.
Patchett asserts: "A friend with whom you can read -and reread- The Ambassadors cannot be replaced." Sure, I have people in my life who love me. But I find it sad -almost unspeakably so- that I have no one in my life at the moment who would read a book for me. Or better yet, with me.
Sniffle. I'm taking applications!