Nora Ephron – on Reading (glasses)

Nora Ephron’s essay is usually quoted in inspirational pieces on reading, but it’s actually about time passing and the dreaded doom of gradually becoming dependent on something impersonal in order to accomplish something intimately personal. It was a useful way into writing today:

ephron ukReading is everything. Reading makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, learned something, become a better person. Reading makes me smarter. Reading gives me something to talk about later on. Reading is the unbelievably healthy way my attention deficit disorder medicates itself. Reading is escape, and the opposite of escape; it’s a way to make contact with reality after a day of making things up, and it’s a way of making contact with someone else’s imagination after a day that’s all too real. Reading is grist. Reading is bliss.

But my ability to pick something up and read it – which has gone unchecked all my life up until now – is now entirely dependent on the whereabouts of my reading glasses.

from I Feel Bad About My Neck, and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman (2006; 2008)

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Reading Notes

Had a fallow time for personal reading – too busy with mss and literary consultancy work. Today I returned to Miss Thing and decided to start over. This time, for some reason that I can’t fathom [my mood, the sunny weather?] I got right into it and was completely hooked, spell-bound, won over by the sheer audacity of the writing. It’s clever without being too high-minded. It’s playful and naughty, as if Chassler’s trying to see how far she can go. Up to p. 110 in one sitting. It’s THAT good.

Reading Notes

On p. 28 of Miss Thing – not quite into it yet. Written as  series of notes and autobiographical sketches. The story so far – Andromeda’s feminist Professor mother has committed suicide and her Grandmother has moved into their apartment; across the courtyard in the opposite apartment is Sam, failed writer. They notice each other while their lives spin on. So far, it’s a bit contrived although the characters are coming into being. Main problem is that the different ‘voices’ in the different autobiographical pieces are all the same; same syntax etc. Surely a teenager and thirty-something would have different vocabulary and references?

Reading Notes

Finished The Unnamed last night. This is my second read-through for a review, but, unlike Valeria’s Last Stand, Dirty Little Angel, or The Legend of Sander Grant (all US publications), The Unnamed doesn’t get better on the second read. Nothing new springs out of the pages. I was hoping for a deeper, multi-layered read.

Reading Notes

Woke up thinking through the puzzle of the Ferris book. What’s wrong with it?Can’t quite put my finger on it but there’s something that annoys in this ‘trying too hard to be literary novel’. I want to follow the mysterious man to a conclusion; I want to know about the court case & whether Tim is as good as he thinks or whether the whole thing is a delusion – which would point to his illness being delusional. Not sure. Frustrated. Started review of The Legend of Sander Grant (Telegram) as a distraction.

Reading Notes

Mostly unbookishness today, although I did read up on all the gossip in the hairdresser’s ‘library’ – why don’t they have books? Anyway, up to p. 220 on the re-read and Ferris is beginning to get under my skin. A book that I didn’t really connect to on the first read has grown into a compelling, assured story on the second read. Why is this? I’ve no idea. By now, nothing is a surprise. I know the outcome. I know what becomes of all the misery and heartache. For all that, in reading it for review, paying attention to all the nuances and party-pieces, the good bit is the thick fruit under all the ice frosting. To be honest, the icing is too sickly for me, ie the descriptive language is wearisome rather than delightful. The story, though, the gruelling path to the truth, is first rate.

Reading Notes

The Unnamed just got interesting – took off into a gripping story.  Some of the similes are clichèd and the sentence structure is annoying, but the story now takes precedence so that these no longer matter. Where did it happen? On p. p.80, when Tim Farnsworth finally loses control by taking it. Ferris undercuts a brilliant scene between Tim and his legal partners where he’s completely frantic and out of control with a gruesome scene where he is completely in control and at ease, yet in which he should be frantic:  –

“Later in the day it fell off on its own. He felt it moving around inside his sock. He shut the door to his office, removed his boot and retrieved what looked like a giant raisin. He crumpled the toe up in a clean piece of paper and threw it away in a trash bin.”

Reading Notes

So that was MBeck no. 6 – another satisfying read. Chapter 21 introduced a new feature to the series – introspection. MBeck considers all the options and where before this was all done ‘off the page’ with the reader simply following the action at the same time as the characters, here, like a Miss Marple mystery, we get to consider the various options along with Beck. Just brilliant really, when you think about it because it almost is a dinner-party murder.