In books we never find anything but ourselves.
Strangely enough, that always gives us great pleasure,
and we say the author is a genius.
I just finished the new memoir by Joseph Luzzi, In a Dark Wood. Luzzi is an Italian professor at Bard who lost his wife in a terrible car accident. She was eight months pregnant with their first child when she was killed, but the baby was saved. Luzzi uses Dante's The Divine Comedy and other writing to frame his own grief and loss and emergence back into life. It's one of those books that I picked up because the cover design on the hardback is so spectacular and not because I'd heard about it or him. I saw the subtitle What Dante Taught Me About Grief, Healing and the Mysteries of Love and had to buy it. If you read that quote of Thomas Mann's above (thanks to my friend Liz for sending it to me), you'll know everything about my reaction to the book.
I've got an embarrassing backlog of books going on over here. In addition to the ones you see in the photo above, I sent a big box to Hedgebrook ahead of me with the following titles inside:
Raising Demons and Life with Savages - both by Shirley Jackson
Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann
Being Human: Readings from the President's Council on Bioethics
Early Warning by Jane Smiley
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
My Kindle (leaning against the books in the photo above) has the following titles waiting patiently to be read:
Alligator by Lisa Moore
The Sunken Cathedral by Kate Walbert
The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go
On Elizabeth Bishop by Colm Toibin
I've got plans to re-read some favorites, like To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolfe, probably my most favorite novel of all time and, thankfully, shorter than my other favorite The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky which is too long to re-read at this point in my life. Maybe I'll look over The Grand Inquisitor section. I also packed some favorite poetry -- William Carlos Williams, Emily Dickinson and -- well -- I can't remember who else I tucked in with the novels and the rain boots (rain boots!) and the knitting (the sweater that I've been knitting for over three years).
Can you even imagine being squirreled away for three weeks in a cottage with all the books you've wanted to read and all the time to write your heart and mind out, to finally finish the book you've been working on for ten years and begin to organize the one that's in your head? I could never have imagined this opportunity that's been granted to me, but it's about two weeks away from being a reality.
Reader, what are you reading and planning to read this summer?