My September reading was not quite as strenuous as last month, given that I read Middlemarch in August, from which I am still feeling the glow of accomplishment, a loathing of Casaubon and a sense of infinite depths.
Here you’ll see just one masterpiece–Austerlitz–and two books I didn’t quite finish, that I skimmed and eventually put down. Those are How to Disappear and Torpor. I had enjoyed the quirky, downbeat, pathetic style of Kraus’s other books, I Love Dick and Aliens and Anorexia, but the grimness of the times we’re living through made it impossible for me to make it through this one, which included a tour through Romania to adopt an orphan, and an accounting of the horrific abuse and neglect babies and children suffered under the Ceausescu regime, the failed and failing relationship, the struggle and the struggling. But A Girl Returned was also the story of an abandoned child–in this case an adopted child “returned” to her birth family. The book also had its horrific moments but was redeemed by the love she found with her birth sister Adriana, a childhood friend, Patrizia, and the reconciliation of sorts with her adoptive mother. And the girl’s insistence on taking her own life back after she had been thrown among strangers. It was purer-hearted and the pure-hearted is what we need right now.
Sometimes I linger in bookstores, browsing the “S” section, hoping a new Sebald book would appear. Since it won’t, I read the existing ones over and over and over and each time they seem as if I had never read them before. Except The Emigrants which I almost have memorized. Austerlitz is a book I read often.
Weather, much lauded, much recommended, had been partly derived from other people’s work. I recognized some of the (unattributed) podcasts and articles she’d gotten the material from. As such, I couldn’t ally myself with the book; I was already allied with the original material. But I liked the paragraph – paragraph – paragraph style.
And the rest of September’s reading? art criticism and Jungian psychology. Now, I am reading myths.