books are better than boys

I like bicycles, beer, and books.
Some other things I like.

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proust? pfff i’ll read that when i’m retired.

A friend of mine asked for advice on what he should read next. This was his response to someone’s suggestion of Proust.

Couldn’t agree more. Or perhaps I could, had he replaced ‘retired’ with ‘dead’. I don’t know that I’ll ever pick up Proust again (after finishing Swann’s Way).


After staying out entirely too late last night I woke up at an ungodly hour to finish reading for our brunch book club meeting.  And I finished with twenty minutes to spare.  Such a slacker, I am.
"I had finished…I was so filled with happiness, I felt…as though I myself were a hen and had just laid an egg, I began to sing at the top of my voice."-Marcel Proust 

After staying out entirely too late last night I woke up at an ungodly hour to finish reading for our brunch book club meeting.  And I finished with twenty minutes to spare.  Such a slacker, I am.

"I had finished…I was so filled with happiness, I felt…as though I myself were a hen and had just laid an egg, I began to sing at the top of my voice."
-Marcel Proust 

I am easily distracted, and can intensely focus only on a thing that is not the thing I am supposed to be doing1.  So, instead of making progress past the first page of “Swann’s Way”2, I have picked up “A Fan’s Notes” by Frederick Exley.  
And it is marvelous. I find that I have to read with a pencil in hand because so often I feel compelled to underline what seems as if it is the perfect sentence, or a sentiment is so accurately stated in an unexpected way that it simply must be noted for future reference.  I think that if one day I loan the book to someone I will want them to take note, and perhaps they will feel the same way, such that there will be an unspoken dialogue between the two of us.  They will nod their head to the “ha!” in the margin next to the underlined “the stillness was of that horrified kind that follows a fart in a Methodist church”.
Additionally, neither of these books is getting me any closer to a finished thesis proposal, that was ostensibly due on November 1st.
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1I am fully aware that this is not a rare condition. 
2I think the problem that I’m having with Proust, is that I have no idea what to feel or think, or even what is happening.  This experience isn’t just from the first page; I have tried to read “Swann’s Way” on quite a few occasions and in my best attempt I made it about sixty pages in.  In a recent email, when trying to explain the experience I wrote, “I feel as though one must dive straight in and keep swimming down, down, down, knowing that you may never find the bottom and praying that you have enough air to last with this Proust fellow. I don’t know that I’m ready to take that on.” Oh dear!  How dramatic it all sounds…

I am easily distracted, and can intensely focus only on a thing that is not the thing I am supposed to be doing1.  So, instead of making progress past the first page of “Swann’s Way”2, I have picked up “A Fan’s Notes” by Frederick Exley. 

And it is marvelous. I find that I have to read with a pencil in hand because so often I feel compelled to underline what seems as if it is the perfect sentence, or a sentiment is so accurately stated in an unexpected way that it simply must be noted for future reference.  I think that if one day I loan the book to someone I will want them to take note, and perhaps they will feel the same way, such that there will be an unspoken dialogue between the two of us.  They will nod their head to the “ha!” in the margin next to the underlined “the stillness was of that horrified kind that follows a fart in a Methodist church”.

Additionally, neither of these books is getting me any closer to a finished thesis proposal, that was ostensibly due on November 1st.

_____________________________________

1I am fully aware that this is not a rare condition.

2I think the problem that I’m having with Proust, is that I have no idea what to feel or think, or even what is happening.  This experience isn’t just from the first page; I have tried to read “Swann’s Way” on quite a few occasions and in my best attempt I made it about sixty pages in.  In a recent email, when trying to explain the experience I wrote, “I feel as though one must dive straight in and keep swimming down, down, down, knowing that you may never find the bottom and praying that you have enough air to last with this Proust fellow. I don’t know that I’m ready to take that on.”
Oh dear!  How dramatic it all sounds…

Giving this one another try.  It is my most ardent wish that with some support from book clubbers I will finally finish at least Swann’s Way.  But last night I couldn’t get past the first page - I read it at least five times over and then sat for a time thinking on it.  I’m afraid it will be quite slow going1, but worthwhile I am sure.
1Making it even slower going is the time spent on reading about the translation, wondering if I should pick up a different version, and of course, reading arguments on the correct pronunciation of ‘Proust’.

Giving this one another try.  It is my most ardent wish that with some support from book clubbers I will finally finish at least Swann’s Way.  But last night I couldn’t get past the first page - I read it at least five times over and then sat for a time thinking on it.  I’m afraid it will be quite slow going1, but worthwhile I am sure.

1Making it even slower going is the time spent on reading about the translation, wondering if I should pick up a different version, and of course, reading arguments on the correct pronunciation of ‘Proust’.

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