I can read again. Like whole books within a week or even a couple of days now that I’m on break. It’s wonderful and sobering at the same time.
My current reading streak started about 3 weeks ago when I stumbled across a novel about 10 year old twins who catch on fire when they’re upset and it felt like the world was back in order when they got to have a happy ending.
My favorite lines from the fire twins in Kevin Wilson’s Nothing To See Here:
“And if it’s bad?” Roland said. “Like at Gran-Gran and Pop-Pop’s?”
“We’ll just burn it all down,” Bessie said. “Everything. Everyone. We’ll set it on fire.”p. 105
Roland and Bessie won me over early on. Their grievances were not misplaced. Lilian, who becomes their caregiver and eventual guardian, has got to be one of the most endearing kick-ass heroines I’ve ever come to appreciate in a novel.
I brought home a bunch of poetry for spring break. Young poetry, recent poetry. Poetry where I get the political and cultural references because I am living them. It’s a source of amazement to me that these poets and I are working with the same alphabet and after that they take off for the stars.
I also realized that not everything we read needs to be breathtaking or heart-stopping. We need breaks. A book I just read where I did not love the main character at all – I call it a filler. (It was My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh, by the way.) Something to tide me over, maybe in preparation for The Next Big Thing. Maybe not. The fact that I can mentally afford a filler right now astounds me.
I don’t care about swear words in my reading the way I thought I used to. I recently purchased a book that has f*cking on every page. The title is Do The F*cking Work. And sometimes I feel just like that.
Without any previous knowledge of the author or her place in pop culture, I picked up Little Weirds by Jenny Slate from the school library. I was reminded a bit of Amy Krause Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and of Ross Gay’s essayettes in The Book of Delights. Collections of both concrete and ephemeral things held up to the light or against the darkness for our consideration. Fantastical and silly and relatable, I loved everything about these short delicious pieces. It’s how I want to write when I grow up.
I have one book on the bench in the kitchen. American Sonnets For My Past and Future Assassin by Terrence Hayes. 70 sonnets some of which elude me and many which call me in for a conference. I keep it in the kitchen and read a sonnet or two after breakfast or lunch. These are poems that feel best to read on a full stomach.
An annoyance: Book blurbs that tell you about a book you are not currently holding in your hands.
I’m so grateful to be able to read again. With abandon. It’s like breathing again smoothly following a nasty head cold. Like when you can hardly remember ever having been sick.
That’s saying a lot.