Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reading and Writing

I mentioned a couple posts ago that I started reading Gone With the Wind. At just shy of 1000 pages, this book is quite a time investment. Sunday I came up on the 300 page mark. And I temporarily (I hope) set the book aside. I'm afraid to stop reading it because I mostly likely won't return, but I needed a break. Why, you ask? Well, I cannot stand Scarlett or Rhett! They're conniving, selfish characters with, so far, no redeeming qualities. I'm hard pressed to understand why people love this book, let alone read it more than once. My brain hurts with trying to jive the protagonists with an enjoyment of the reading process. Have any of you read the book?

To give myself a reprieve from the silly, selfish characters permeating Gone With the Wind, I decided to pick up and re-read Anne Fadiman's book of essays Ex Libris. This collection is a treasure-trove of unusual words and wonderful essays about reading, books, and fascination with words.

Fadiman is a writer I'd love to emulate. Her style is invitingly readable, but not in the least silly. I think I mentioned in a post way back when, that I first read an essay by her--Marrying Libraries--in my creative nonfiction writing class in college. I remember being delighted as I read it, but didn't think much more about it (too many other reading and writing assignments vying for my attention). A couple years later, post-college, as I was working at a used bookstore, I happened to pick up Ex Libris and peruse the table of contents. The first essay jogged my memory with a spark of delighted surprise, Marrying Libraries. Without a thought, I bought the volume for a few dollars and started reading. When I finished the slim book, I wanted to give copies to everyone I knew that loved to read (much how I feel about 84 Charing Cross Road). I wanted to spread the wealth of this small gem. I wanted to read it all over again.

Back in my college days, I dared to dream I might just be able to write such essays that would grab the attention and leave tendrils of memories behind to be jogged several years later into happy reminiscence. These days after working, cooking, cleaning, and all the other realities of life come calling, I find myself flat of ideas, unable to imagine crafting words into anything worth sharing. But, I haven't given up hope. I read books of essays to inspire me and every once in a while I'll pull out an old essay I wrote and think, "Wow, I really did know how to write once upon a time." So, maybe there is still a little of that writer in me.


Kim said...

If I remember correctly GWTW took awhile for me to get in to... and I eventually ended up just loving it. But it took awhile... and I never loved Scarlett, that's for dang sure!

Heather L. said...

I spent a month reading it last summer. I agree about s and R -- usually heros are people I want to emulate -- not those two!! Or, they are people you hope the best for -- but how do you hope the best for selfish people?? However, I did like the book, perhaps most for the insight into history.

Lana Joy said...

Isn't that the truth! Where did my creativity go? I wonder sometimes how I ever knew how to craft a few words together. I even translated a poem from Spanish into English, once, and it was very good. How did I manage? I loved reading and writing...and I wish life hadn't squeezed it off of my radar. Once again, Steph, we are on the same page.

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