Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lost hours and hours to this, but gained many insights into American history, so it can't all be bad, right?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I woke with a start in the middle of the night a couple of nights ago, and lay awake clutching my heart while it pulsed in this wild, pulpy way. Since I couldn't seem to fall back asleep I spent the rest of the night listening to music (Loudon Wainwright III singing about heartbreak mostly) and podcasts (Radio Lab's almost creepy but entirely inspired series about the afterlife) and got really excited when I remembered that the most recent New Yorker fiction podcast would feature dreamy, dreamy Joshua Ferris reading a story by George Saunders, and proceeded to lie in the dark with just the little blue light of my device-friend illuminating my face, given over to those disembodied voices talking books. I'd never read Saunders before, and his acerbic, macabre writing narrated by Ferris' voice moving with buoyancy and anger and humanity put me at ease. I couldn't go back to sleep though because as soon as the conversation between Ferris and Deborah Triesman politely ended, I started it over again, hoping for more layers of meaning to unfold themselves, willing myself to understand what Saunders was saying about violence and peace and stupidity and grace and all of it.
The next day at work I spent my lunch break poring through In Persuasion Nation, glad to inhabit, even for a few minutes, his weird, haunting world. There is a problem though. Listening to Ferris, Treisman, reading Saunders, spending my entire days surrounded by books. It's the problem so well articulated by Kathryn Chetkovitch in an essay she wrote for Granta some time ago about how terrible it is to feel envy.