About this [blank] garden
“I am younger each year at the first snow.”
– Anne Sexton, in a letter to W. D. Snodgrass, in 1958.
A Self-portrait in Letters, Mariner Books (2004)
This is my blank space. A white page, as good as a garden covered in snow, not yet cultivated, but with some strong Spring hidden within; something simple, clean, yet to be stained; a seed with some flower all curled up inside, first waiting, then slowly unraveling.
About my scarlet letters
My reading life is a conversation made in silence with writers I most probably will never meet. I see the books I read (and the posts I write about them) as a letter exchange. You are invited to open these letters I send to the void. Cor ad cor loquitur.
I live in Germany but write in English, a language that took hold of my mouth like a kind of parasite that latches into the tongue of a fish and eats it, replacing it with its own body – something grotesque and gorgeous I have to live with.
This is my reading journal and commonplace book. I am a passionate reader and my posts are mostly efforts of affection: writing about books is my personal way of learning how to read them; my way of lingering with them. You may notice that you will hardly ever find entirely negative reviews on my blog. That’s because (a) if a book fails to move or engage me, I do not finish it; and (b) I prefer to bring grace and intuition to a book, rather than bile.
“The only sensible procedure for a critic is to keep silent about works which he believes to be bad, while at the same time vigorously campaigning for those which he believes to be good, especially if they are being neglected or underestimated by the public. (…) Attacking bad books is not only a waste of time but also bad for character. If I find a book really bad, the only interest I can derive from writing about it has to come from myself, from such display of intelligence, wit and malice as I can contrive. One cannot review a bad book without showing off.” – W. H. Auden, The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays (1968)
I am an amateur
“I am and wish to remain a reader, an amateur, and a fan, unburdened by the weight of ceaseless evaluation. Sometimes the book itself is my main subject; at other times it’s just a pretext for spinning out various loose associations. Anyone who calls these pieces sketches will be correct. Anyone insisting on ‘reviews’ will incur my displeasure.” Wisława Szymborska, Nonrequired Reading (2002), tr. Clare Cavanagh (Lektury nadobowiazkowe, 1973)
and I subscribe to “The Reader’s Bill of Rights”:
“The Reader’s Bill of Rights
1. The right to not read
2. The right to skip pages
3. The right to not finish
4. The right to reread
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to escapism
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to browse
9. The right to read out loud
10. The right to not defend your tastes”
— Daniel Pennac, Better Than Life, tr. David Homel (1994)
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