Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What Fiction Moratorium?

Last night, a few of my pals gathered at my favourite local pub for a belated celebration of my birthday. My actual birthday was the day that I flew home from Scotland. With the time change, that could have been a clever way to extend the occasion. Alas I was too jet lagged to make festive use of the extra hours and the party was postponed.

Since it was the day of my birthday celebration, I behaved as if it was my birthday and spoiled myself accordingly. That means books. I made a circuit of downtown bookstores and came away laden with gems.

It began with Lord Jim. When Ella recommended that I read it last week, I intended to check a copy out of the library. Then I spied the pristine 1931 Modern Library edition pictured above and it seemed that it was meant to be. I followed that up with some nice Penguin paperback editions of RLS’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James Joyce’s The Dubliners, Muriel Spark’s The Abbess of Crewe, and Bernard Malamud’s Dubin’s Lives—all the right price and the perfect size to carry around for subway reading. And for those of you who were wondering about my sanity after Sunday’s post, I did go back for the Kavan and the Sorrentino and the Auster.

It’s entirely possible that my moment of panic on Sunday had less to do with the anxiety of influence than with a birthday with a zero in it and the realization that thus far in my adult life my literary output has crawled along at the pace of one book every ten years. In any event, I’ve got a fire lit under me now. And just to be sure I’ll save the Sorrentino and the Auster until after I’ve finished a draft of the meta-fictional piece I’m currently working on.

Stuart, my co-conspirator in The Fictitious Reading Series, turned up at the pub late in the evening. We hadn’t seen one another since before my Scotland trip but he’s been reading my blog.

“I hear you’ve given up fiction,” he said.

“Oh, that was just yesterday,” I replied.


Booklad said...

I'm glad you are doing better. Happy Birthday to you. Some very nice editions you picked up. I love those ML with dust-jackets.

cheers to you!

moonlight ambulette said...

i feel like the more good stuff i read the more i feel like writing, and the less i read the less i feel like writing.

does that happen to you?

and yeah, isn't finding a pretty copy of an old book just the greatest thing in the world?

Melas said...

dear kate s.,
my literary output is even slower. i turned 40 this year and haven't managed to finish one book yet. i've been writing for 34 years, at your rate i'd have 3 1/2 books done.
don't beat yourself up. writing is something we do because we have to not because we like to or want to. i tried to explain it once to my partner and she recommended a nice anti-psychotic medication.
g'luck and happy belated birthday.

Ella said...

I get so happy when I see lovely, dust-jacketed ML editions of my favorite books. Hope you enjoy "Lord Jim"!