Wednesday, February 12, 2014

binge reading

After spending months reading only the newsfeed on Facebook, Google news on my phone, and the 10 novels I have managed to extract from the many boxes of books in the garage since our move * I have finally found a new favorite author. The binge reading has begun.  I'm currently devouring the work of George Saunders.  He has a wonderful conversational style in his non-fiction reporting and some gorgeous, gorgeous insights.  Example:

You know that feeling at the end of the day, when the anxiety of that-which-I-must-do falls away and, for maybe the first time that day, you see, with some clarity, the people you love and the ways you have, during that day, slightly ignored them, turned away from them to get back to what you were doing, blurted out some mildly hurtful thing, projected, instead of the deep love you really feel, a surge of defensiveness or self-protection or suspicion? That moment when you think, Oh God, what have I done with this day? And what am I doing with my life? And what must I change to avoid catastrophic end-of-life regrets?

I feel like that now: tired of the Me I’ve always been, tired of making the same mistakes, repetitively stumbling after the same small ego strokes, being caught in the same loops of anxiety and defensiveness. At the end of my life, I know I won’t be wishing I’d held more back, been less effusive, more often stood on ceremony, forgiven less, spent more days oblivious to the secret wishes and fears of the people around me. So what is stopping me from stepping outside my habitual crap?

(That was from this essay:  The Incredible Buddha Boy. )

I read those paragraphs and a gong went off in my chest.  YES. YES! I am sometimes so sick of myself-- "being caught in the same loops of anxiety and defensiveness".  My self-professed, so far barely pursued New Year's Resolution is to somehow slough off that Me and move on to what Mr. Saunders in this speech refers to as Mostly Love.

It's interesting to me how relatable, almost cliche concepts like those in the quote above ("seize the day", "if you love 'em, tell 'em") can still strike the gong in my chest from time to time and wake me up. Maybe I'm just a neurotic who finds validation in the natter of another neurotic. I guess it doesn't matter, though, does it? If the end result is a kinder, gentler me?

Anyway, Google George Saunders. Beyond the essays and other non-fiction, his fiction is pleasantly strange and somewhat arresting.  He's decidedly uncool throughout, a trait I prize in an author or really anyone. Another cool yet uncool author is David Foster Wallace, also worth a binge read.

*oh yeah, we moved. Again. Back to Texas. I don't want to talk about it.