I was originally intending to write about literary moments for which I’m thankful. I’ve been thinking about those moments in books that have given me delight, that have made me smile on the metrolink when the other passengers are just bobbing along, planning their Mondays. I’ve been trying to remember the moments that catapulted me from my chair, that made me pace the apartment in an attempt to shake the aftershocks from my bones. Unfortunately, I can’t do it. There are too many such moments, and snipping those little sequins from a dress in motion robs them of their seductive power.
Instead, I’ve decided to focus on whole books. If you’re in the club, then you understand how certain books can remain a part of your psychological landscape. I’ve narrowed the many down to two that I particularly treasure:
Pnin by Vladimir Nabokov. There’s something about this little jewel of Nabokov’s that has brought me back for at least three rereads. It rewards a careful, word-by-word dissection with beatiful symmetry, poetic imagery, and a tremendous empathy for the main character. It also contains one of the most poignant moments in all of literature – the punch bowl in the sink. Now here’s the catch – I won’t read this part. I refuse. I reshelve my copy a few paragraphs prior to the passage in question, and don’t go near it again for months. It becomes radioactive.
Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje. This is one of the few books that I’ve reread during the original read. I’d finish a chapter, then immediately reread that chapter. I finished the book and then reread the parts that were profoundly affecting. I never engage in such nonsense. Divisadero is divided into two parts that are not directly related in any traditional way. The relationship between the two parts has been described as “twinning” and apparently the “twinned” motif recurs, in miniature, throughout the book. The first part was “meh”, but the second part is perfect. I don’t have any words beyond perfect. It’s perfect.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d share two books that I’m thankful were written, published, and somehow, found by me. I invite you to remember those special, super-excellent reads, and share them with the crowd.