Thursday, March 22, 2012

James, my non-bookish son, recently asked me if I owned a good translation of the Iliad because he thought he'd like to read it. Paul, my bookish son, has been begging to be taken to the Hunger Games movie because he's read all the books in the series about ten times each. Tom, my semi-bookish husband, is reading a large tome about the history of portraiture in European art. I, the writer, am reading time-wasting Barbara Pym novels.

Of course I am also reading a million and a half potential anthology entries as well as editing two poetry manuscripts and a book about nitrogen. I just never seem to believe that work reading counts as real reading, which is absurd. Yet I used to have a parallel belief about school-assigned reading versus sitting-up-in-bed reading, except then I believed that it was the sitting-up-in-bed reading that didn't count. Apparently in the two decades since I last took a college class, my conception of "real reading" has entirely reversed itself. How odd.

I imagine that I could easily find a Virginia Woolf remark that would explain this shift. V knows all about my reading habits, although she is snottier than I am. Probably she would lump me into the vulgar colonial category, along with Katherine Mansfield. But she took Mansfield seriously nonetheless. Also, V and I both like dogs, and people who care about dogs make a bit of room for one another, even if they're also suspicious. That sounds like a frivolous statement, but aren't a person's habits and affections as central as her intellect? Mine are more central, most of the time. And I've seen photographs of V and her dogs.

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