Wednesday, September 20, 2006

If I Were Queen of the World . . .

. . . you would all be reading The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Alan Jacobs, which is as enchanting a biography as I've read since The Woman and the Dynamo: Isabel Paterson and the Idea of America by Stephen Cox. Because, you see, that is where my tyranny and absolute authority would bubble to the surface. I do not want the tiaras and palaces and courtiers -- I want a bookclub draft, wherein I decide what gets read, and then people have to sit with me (I'll serve tea and some sort of delectable -- it will be a benevolent dictatorship) and discuss the books with me until I get them out of my system. That would save me a heck of a lot of writing, since the only way I can get these books off of the brain is to sit and write out long-winded reviews.

I am so much more the reader than the writer. I jump from one lovely book to the next, with scarcely a breath drawn between. Of course, this rampant bibliophily means that too few of the books that feed my soul get their own "writing out" day in the sun. For instance, I have lately been enamored of the books of Thornton Wilder. I read a trio of his that inspired awe in me for their sheer divergency and, yet, uniform excellence. I wanted to shout out to the world that these three novels were worthy of resurfacing in public acclaim, and I desired to ignite a discussion of how one author could write in so varied a manner; but, even so, they have gone unreviewed, unacknowledged and unseen in the archives of my many blogs. Now, they won't leave me alone -- they are like little ghost children hanging about me, tugging on my sleeves and hems, crying plaintively for a "writing out." But, I have read too many books since then, that I could not do them justice right now. (They are, for those of piqued interest, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Heaven's My Destination, and The Ides of March.)

The same could be said for Stephen Cox's more recent book, The New Testament and Literature, which is a rich, satisfying journey through literary patterns that unite the writings of the New Testament with much of the subsequent literature produced by Western Civilization, both by Christian and non-Christian writers. This book filled me so full by the end of the first read, that I had to let it sink in a bit and read its cited sources before attempting a second read-through. I'm currently in that second read-through (concurrently with The Narnian), and I'm getting even more out of the text this time. Yet, I somehow know that at the end of it all, it too will fade before its just written examination, because I'll be off and running on another literary quest.

It is the frustration of my life that I cannot find just one person with whom I can read all things at the same time. Someone with similar tastes and a well-informed mind who can, at the same time, bring a diverse history of digested literature to the table that complements but does not copy mine would be ideal and lead to lively discussion and an enhanced reading experience. My poor husband has to hear an earful about books he'll never even want to read every night, simply because I cannot keep my mouth from yammering out all of the thoughts that are racing through my head. I've been in bookclubs before, but the tyrant in me cannot abide by some of the lame choices I've wallowed through when it was another member's turn to choose the title.

Okay, I'm not such a prig as that previous paragraph makes me out to be. As I was reading it over, I felt, all of a sudden, like Kim Jong Il in Team America, singing, "I'm Ronery." The thing is not that I cannot find people who are well-read and highly informed and far more intelligent (or, as Kim Jong Il might say, "interrigent") than I. Frankly, that describes most of my friends. It's just that no one has the time or inclination to ride with me on this wild, breathless journey -- hopping from book to book like a two-bit whore. Hmmm . . . the imagery there went from epic to vulgar in 2.5 seconds. This is what happens when it is 2 AM and you're sitting in front of your computer, lamenting the fact that you just read an amazing insight in a C.S. Lewis biography and have no one at all with whom you can revel in its artistry.

I apologize for the rambling. Back to The Narnian for me! Maybe I'll write about it later. Maybe not. So far, it is excellent.

5 comments:

Larry Who said...

I, too, have read hundreds of books. Christian books to Hemingway. So, I understand the frustration of not finding someone to share the beauty of what I have read.

But the reading was worth it,if only for myself. How else would I know about Dave Robicheaux or Harry Bosch? Or Captain W. F. Call and Augustus? Or the early church written about by Gene Edwards?

Books have always been a treasure to me.

Arielle said...

Justine,

Thank you for the smile! You should write at 2am more often.

Deatherage Web Development said...

At least you have the words with which to do a book review justice! I read a book I love and think "wow!" but that's as far as I can go it seems. Any effort to describe it is usually so far beneath the book itself I feel pathetic.
And I agree with Arielle - the slightly evil but funny side of your muse surfaces around 2am. ;D

crazyjojobeans said...

Dang nabbit! I hate it when my hubby leaves himself logged in. The above was me!

Joelle said...

Dang nabbit! It used my login name for my show on screen name! And I can't erase it!
I am Joelle - JOELLE, dang blogger!