Tuesday, February 7, 2017

I spent much of yesterday walking back and forth to various obligations in the city, and apparently, according to the distance measurements on Google Maps, all that trudging added up to 8 miles in a single day. No wonder I'm sleeping well at night.

The funny thing is that the trudging was all literary: meeting a friend to talk about a manuscript, going to the used bookstore with my son, meeting a poet for dinner, going to her poetry reading afterward. . . . Who knew that books involved so much exercise?

Today, wind and icy snow are scouring the streets. Waves are splashing over the jetty. My hike up the hill to the corner market will probably be my only outing. I need to buy potatoes for a gratin and bread and fruit for the Young Bread n' Fruit Monster who is currently comatose in the back room.

But mostly I hope to be reading and writing. Svetlana Alexievich's The Last of the Soviets is stunning and strange and complicated, and also a library book with a looming due date. I have four new books of poetry to read. I bought a first edition of Iris Murdoch's An Unofficial Rose and a first edition of John Updike's The Music School. And when I opened the Updike in the bookstore, I read the following handwritten note on the flyleaf . . . a window into 1960s sex mores and academia and literary posturing and also real feeling and the ambiguities of time and attachment--plus, it was written in, of all things, an Updike story collection, which makes the tone and subject matter even more tragicomic:

Christmas 1966
May 1967 
Sarah, 
It seems a trifle amusing to be writing now in May what I should have written last December. But, that's more or less the way the whole thing has been from start to the many finishes. It is most fitting that this is a book of lovers and students. I hope that one can be both. 
À Demain, 
George

3 comments:

Mr Hill said...

That is one fascinating dedication.

So I recently finished my first ever Iris Murdoch (The Sea, The Sea) and really loved it. Any others you'd recommend?

Dawn Potter said...

That's a favorite of mine but, really, you can't go wrong with any of them. Murdoch's individual novels aren't nearly as memorable as Murdoch's strange overall mixture of philosophy and melodrama. You might look for The Green Knight, which I love. For something different, try The Net, which is her first novel. It's bluntly comic in a very amusing way.

Mr Hill said...

Thanks, Dawn. I just realized I haven't read an American author since the election. It has been all Murdoch and a series of Jane Gardam novels: my reading life is in voluntary exile. So thanks for the supplies.