I know a couple who moved into together, then later got married. Upon moving in together they integrated their books. Kate and I moved in together, got married, then got a joint bank account, but we never integrated our books.
So I thought maybe I should integrate them now? For 10 months I’ve been thinking about it, and now I’ve decided: to keep them separate.
I have a couple of hundred books, and she has a couple of hundred books, and here are the books we have in common:
- James Joyce, Ulysses
- Alice Munro, The Lives of Girls and Women
- Yan Martel, Life of Pi
- Zadie Smith, White Teeth
- William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury
- Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
- Nino Ricci, Lives of the Saints
In so many ways we were similar, but our reading tastes were like oil and water.
Somewhere there is a PhD studying this phenomena.
Here’s a quotation from Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (p 270):
So I could be aware of the dangers of the self-consciousness, but at the same time, I’ll be plowing through the fog of all these echoes, plowing through mixed metaphors, noise, and will try to show the core, which is still there, as a core, and is valid, despite the fog. The core is the core is the core. There is always the core, that can’t be articulated.
I think that’s the whole book, right there: “There is always the core, that can’t be articulated.”
All confessions are curated, is my version of it. The core is there, but it can’t be articulated; it can only be approximated, rendered. Turned into art.
I have finished the Eggers memoir, and kudos to him. It is as the title describes.
Kate liked Eggers; I didn’t. I would have hated this book a year ago. I wouldn’t have got past the first 10 pages.
But now it seems just right. Horribly self-conscious, but how else are you supposed to live with grief? The voice is both highly manufactured and also bang-on. Irritating, and also sympathetic. Narcissistic, and also empathetic.
A virtuoso piece of writing. Terribly sad, too.
(I’m going to put it on Kate’s bookshelf, where I think it best belongs.)