first obpressions.

So, still trying to read the three "morbid self-attention" books I got from the library a couple weeks ago: Didion, Barnes, and the DFW biography. Didion's "Blue Lights" and the DFW bio are....maybe "light" isn't the right word, but they're easy to both start and stop reading. Didion: although she's said a few things that have really resonated so far, page 16 for example:

Time passes.
Yes, agreed, a banality, of course time passes.
Then why do I say it, why have I already said it more than once?
Have I been saying it the same way I say I have lived most of my life in California?
Have I been saying it without hearing what I say?
Could it be that I heard it more this way: Time passes, but not so aggressively that anyone notices? Or even: Time passes, but not for me? Could it be that I did not figure in either the general nature or the permanence of the slowing, the irreversible changes in mind and body, the way in which you wake one summer morning less resilient than you were and by Christmas find your ability to mobilize gone, atrophied, no longer extant?
Could it be that I never believed it?
Did I believe that the blue nights could last forever?


The "blue nights", they're not what you think they are, they're this.

Anyway, though I'm mostly "with her", there's a little something about her tone (and all these one-sentence paragraphs) that's rubbing me really wrong. I know it seems churlish and insubordinate to complain about someone's technique when they're writing a book about their prematurely dead daughter and that death's effect on one's own view of mortality....but this is why I don't finish many books. I can't just "read past" someone's delivery or vocabulary or any of the things that go into writing. This is also why I don't seriously "write": I'd have to get past myself as a reader first.

The DFW bio is, well, something that I imagine would have driven him to suicide were he not already dead, and I say this knowing him just as well as his biographer knew him, that is to say not at all. I would love to see Mr. Wallace's annotations/footnotes on this book. It's, yes, stuff that rings 7,000 bells for me (auto)biographically: problems being comfortable socially; a brain whose unstoppableness becomes more and more of a liability whenever it's not channeled towards creating something; etc etc etc. I'll quote some of that here as well when I have it in front of me....

The Barnes book is a horse of a different etc: very dense and descriptive, and very British, not that there's anything wrong with that; it's just not something I'm able to dabble in yet. REMIND ME TO RENEW THESE. I'm leaving that sentence there until I do it.

to be continued....


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