An innocent jaunt to the local Barnes & Nobles has resulted in financial disaster. I wanted only to slip in, read Lydia Davis’ introduction to Proust, and slip back out. I held strong right until the very end, browsing with a remarkable sense of freedom and detachment, assured that I would walk out without selecting a single book. After all, I had just purchased Alain de Botton’s slender novel on Proust (already finished), was planning on reading all of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, was half way through a re-read of Harrison’s A Storm of Wings, nearly finished with Woolf’s The Voyage Out, had started Steinbeck’s East of Eden (for a reading club composed of 2), and was meandering through a collection Bukowski’s short stories.
In short, I was adrift, without rudder or heading, nibbling here and there as I sampled different styles and works. Too many books were piled by my bedside table, waiting reproachfully for me to pick them up and do right by them.
And then, drifting through the aisles in B&N, I came across McCormack’s Blood Meridian. I paused, and with a sense of impending doom, pulled it out. Ran my fingers over its curiously dusty smooth cover, hefted it, glanced at the blurb on the back. Blood Meridian. I’d heard so much about it of late, much in the same way that Stefanie over at So Many Books had been picking up hints left and right that she should get into Proust. So, seized by a sudden, reckless abandon, I decided that one book wouldn’t hurt.
Ah, and so it began! Next thing I knew, I had David Mitchell’s Number9Dream in hand (Cloud Atlas was so stunningly brilliant that I had to have more), and Love in the Time of Cholera (a sense of guilt over somehow not having read it yet combined with my sudden pirate-like fearlessness caused me to snatch it up). And then, three novels in hand, I was seized by real madness, and hauled The Tale of Genji off the shelf.
Madness! Madness! They’re sitting on my desk right now, neatly piled and awaiting me. My haphazard collection of partially read novels are no doubt glaring at them with outrage, and now I must decide: finish of the old ones, or dive into the new?
And over everything, like a glorious, scintillating mountain range, looms In Search of Lost Time. Like Bruce Wayne said: I’ve got to go to work.