Please check out the first installment of my monthly column, “A Reader’s Log(orrhea),” at The Nervous Breakdown. Here’s an excerpt:
Deciding what to read is, for me, always marked by a certain degree of anxiety. I feel pulled back by the past, from all those classics that inspired countless other worthy works, but also simultaneously pushed along toward or pulled by whatever’s being published now. There are other tensions. As a fiction writer, I like to read things that are connected in some way—either thematically or structurally, or, ideally, both—to what I’m currently writing. As a reviewer, I also have books that are sent to me and pull me in yet another direction. I’m also often yanked by the independent presses; their vitality is overpowering, sometimes. And then there’s the tugging from the incredible, and innumerable, new works in translation. For instance, there’s Michael Hulse’s recent translation of Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge that’s been calling to me. (I’ve read three translations of it already, so why do I feel this pull?) And, just like everybody else, I have to wade through the major press conglomerate’s advertising bombardments of their latest, and usually unsatisfying and empty, bombast; but even so, I still keep looking because… you just never know.