Books, Thoughts

A Private Reading

Been a busy & productive weekend, writing-wise.  My latest Virginia Neighbors deadline was Thursday.  It was my turn to post a piece on the writing blog I share with Justin.  & I have 4 books for review for FLS, two of which I’ve finished & outlined.  So, I’m sure you’ll understand, gentle reader, why I’m late with this post.

If you’ve read Anne Fadiman’s Ex Libris, you might remember the essay “Sharing the Mayhem.”  Fadiman writes on how reading a work aloud is to experience it in a different way.  The reader is forced to slow down, to be re-awakened to the specific word choice the author uses, to feel the drama in each sentence.  Reading it to someone else makes it more fun.  Not only are you experiencing the text differently, you get to cast it anew for someone else.  Reciting aloud plays on our natural storytelling impulse.

Fadiman also writes, “The most private of all reading, of course, are performed by lovers.”  She invokes Paolo & Francesca in the second circle of Hell in The Divine Comedy before moving onto her own tamer nighttime readings with her husband.  The essay ends on a very sweet, romantic note: two people expressing their love for one another by sharing their love of literature.

Soon after reading “Sharing the Mayhem”, I decided Kurt & I would start reading to each other again.  I mentioned last week that our relationship had started with us reading Lilith together.  We hadn’t really found another book since; it’s difficult to pick the right one.

You want to pick something that you’ll both be interested in.  Something that’s fun to read.  Something that won’t take too long to finish; remember, any decent sized novel you could finish on your own in a few weeks takes much longer when read out loud.  (There’s a reason most audio books are abridged.)  So, we ended up picking Camus’ The Stranger.  The prose is terse but stunning.  It’s not too long.  Not only is it an existential mystery; it was inspired by The Postman Always Rings Twice.

But, my favorite part, of course, is how Kurt reads it.  He reads very deliberately and calmly.  Also, by virtue of being an excellent mimic & by having a brother who’s spent most of his adult life in France, Kurt can slip in & out of a decent French accent as casually as if he were throwing a ball.  I actually wanted to cry when he read the part about pathetic Salamano & his lost dog, “that dirty, stinking bastard.”

But now, we’re reaching the end & it’s time for me to pick something.  I don’t have very high hopes; part of the reason we stopped before is because Kurt could never stay awake for more than a paragraph whenever I read.  & one of my pet peeves is having to recount every detail to someone else; I have little patience.

I’m thinking we’ll either continue the mystery theme & choose from the noirs on my shelf.  Or, the other choice I’m leaning toward is a group of slim poetry books by Buffy Morgan, Sarah Kennedy & Eleanor Ross Taylor.  (There was an LSU advance copy explosion at my house awhile back.)  Poetry–lyrical, layers of meaning & sound to tease you into submission, each piece standing alone with no loose plot ends to explain.  I think it sounds perfect.  We’ll see if my audience agrees.


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