Saturday, July 29, 2006

Rereading Great Books

In "Rereadings: Seventeen writers revisit books they love," Anne Fadiman collects essays she commissioned while editor at The American Scholar. It's a wonderful collection of essays about reading and life and changing perspective.

As a teenager I read all of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky and most of Thomas Mann. I'm now rereading "The Magic Mountain" and enjoying it immensely--in part because I'm recognizing passages I loved as a teen and I'm thinking about why this book appealed so much to me when I was younger. Who was I? What did I think about? It's a fascinating adventure.
Try it. Reread a favorite book.

from "The Magic Mountain," page 156
"What a strange game these two tablemates were playing. Both of them knew that their lies had double and triple twists--that Hans Castory teased the teacher just so he could talk about Frau Chauchat, but that at the same time he took unwholesome delight in flirting with the old maid; and that for her part, she welcomed all this: first, becuase it allowed her to play the matchmaker, and second, because she probably had become smitten with Frua Chauchat, if only to please the young man, and finally, becuase she took some kind of wretched pleasure in being teased and made to blush. They both knew this about themselves and one another--and that it was all tangled and squalid. But although Hans Castorp was usually repelled by tangled and squalid affairs and even felt repelled in this instance as well, he continued to splash about in these murky waters, taking oconsolation in the certainty that he was here only on a visit and would soon be leaving."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Naming--and writing about-- the Forbidden

"When we are told that something is not to be spoken about, we understand this to mean that this something should not exist - should not, cannot, must no, does not exist. In that moment our reality and, consequently, our lives, are distorted; they become shameful and diminished. In some ways, we understand this to mean we should not exist. To protect ourselves, we too begin to speak only of the flat world where everything is safe, commonplace and agreeable, the very small world about which we can all have consensus. Soon we don't see the other worlds we once saw. For it is difficult to see what we are forbidden to name". - Deena Metzger

Prompt: Make a list of what is/was not spoken about in your life. What's taboo? Look over your list. Write about what jumps out at you. Give voice to those "other worlds."

Saturday, July 08, 2006


OK. You may not be a tennis fan but anybody can be inspired by the French player, Amelie Mauresmo, who won Wimbledon today--beating Justine Henin-Hardenne in a three set battle. Mauresmo, 27, has for years been a "head case," undone by nerves, erratic at key moments, defeatist. Today she prevailed and said in her acceptance speech that she doesn't want to hear any more about her nerves!

Write about a time you overcame your nerves.