ReadySteadyBlog

The inimitable Spurious:


I never liked hoarders of books: old men and women who would never lend or give me, when I was young, what I wanted from their bookshelves. Hoarders, collectors, saving books - from what? for what? - and hence depriving them from me. How unreasonable I was (and am), but now I must turn my prejudice on myself. Have I not replaced old editions of my books with new, hardbacked ones? Am I not able to afford 3 or 4 pounds to buy a book out of curiosity? Have I not a row of unread books and that I might not read for many years - editions of Gaddis, Canetti, Milosz, Perec; and even Lydia Davis' The Way By Swann's, in the American edition? How deplorable!

I wonder whether I buy these books, and replace order ones in order to satisfy the victim of literary deprivation I once thought I was - and whether I've missed out on that kind of reading where a book can really be everything. But this, too, is absurd: how foolish to look for a Reading behind reading, and to think it lay there when I was young. I was as foolish a reader then as I am today - as distracted, as frivolous: then and now I felt I never really read a book, but only grazed its surface: that beneath, say, the printed pages of The Sleepwalkers, in that old, handsome Quartet Encounters edition, there was an experience of reading that I'd missed, as though the real book lurked there like a kraken.

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