In my mind, it’s good to come across someone or something much smarter than you. I remember when I first learned about deconstruction in an English theory class and my mind popped…it still pops sometimes when I think about Derrida. I’m happy that it happens to me fairly frequently, and in fact, recently.
While reading the New York Times Magazine interview of Norman Rush I became more and more impressed by him (and his wife, Elsa) each click of the page.* I am not overly familiar with Rush–shameful, I know. One thing that immediately was clear, this guy is brilliant. In particular, I find impressive people with a deep vocabulary who can use their mastery of words smoothly in everyday speaking.
I was stopped. Stopped in reading. This happens to me sometimes. Naipaul and Coetzee are authors of late who’ve made me put down a book and walk around, stunned, or close my eyes and basically bow to their superiority in stringing words together to create images that make my heart melt. I’ve not read any of his works–and I admit, I’m a bit intimidated to do so**–yet I know Rush will cause me to walk around, muttering about an incredible sentence or paragraph. Just in reading his interview, being introduced to more than just a name I’d heard before, I kept thinking, “this guy is just so cool…he’s such a…a writer.”
I was already in a quiet frenzy reading this interview, when I basically threw up my hands in reaction: “that’s it, this guy is the bee’s knees, he’s out of this world.” Listen to this: in describing his parents relationship he said, it was “an evil eidolon.”
Could you ever imagine talking like that? I wish!
I was drooling over Rush’s mastery of language. And what timing–for good and for ill. 2013 has been a lackluster year for me in the reading department. I finished Life of Pi***…and that’s been about it.
And here it comes…the confession…the pointing out of things that I tend to do when writing this blog: I’ve been feeling a lot of anxiety about books, and the book project.
I walked away from Joshua Cody, this time for good about halfway through his memoir. And there was no love lost here, not like when I walked away from Cass. But, it still stings. I had hopes about this memoir. I’m love hating on Laura Hillenbrand for ensuring I never read another book about WWII, but having read one of the best… I keep thinking about Edward P Jones’s All Aunt Hagar’s Children as if I’m going to write a full fledged review of this book published so long ago. So, the timing is great that I’ve become enamored with a new author since it’s been so long since I’ve had a good book in my hands. However, I guiltily slink past my “to read shelf” that includes works of Franzen, Coupland, Naipaul, because I can’t muster the courage to start any of them–chalk it up to the anxiety. I’m still working through something emotional from the last pieces by them I’ve read. Worse, that guy who wrote that book on Castro, I can’t start that because I fear I won’t like it and have to put it aside like Philip Werner and the guy who wrote that other book on WWII…put the book aside like I did Kahneman. Hillenbrand, just write another book and put me out of my misery.
In reading Rush’s interview, I know I’ll obtain Mating or Mortals. That goes without saying. What will go with saying is: will I be able to slough off my anxiety and be able to read his work? Well, who knows. I’ll lament or laud no matter what.
* Rage, rage against the dying of the “turning of the page.”
** Insert some phrase about things making us stronger if they don’t kill us first…I’ll go for it. I’ll take up one of Rush’s reads.
***Spoiler alert, about the tiger?…okay, I can’t do it…I can’t spoiler alert. Just read the book.