Friday, January 22, 2010

The book I have most reread

Years ago, before children and Sydney and Responsibility, I enrolled in a PhD. It was my dream, to be a tenured whatsit in a university, left largely alone in my first floor office writing pointless stuff (let's be honest) about books I loved.

I worked on my thesis for years. I wrote drafts, I researched, I even went overseas to do things in archives, but in writing every chapter I came to the same point: "Blah blah blah... [nothing]".

There's nothing worse than nothing.

So the book I have read the most, ever, was the subject of chapter four: The Biographer's Tale by A.S. Byatt. It is brilliant and awkward and short and boring but every time (of the fifteen? Twenty times?) I have read it I have found something new, had that experience of the sublime; a sentence here, a paragraph there, that is not in any way special but says something to me.

And I know that I am but one humble reader, but in that moment of reading the sentence is there just for me.

[With a good sleep I promise I'll be less melodramatic. Forgive me.]

2 comments:

the projectivist said...

Do you suppose there might be a sentence or two in there for me also, Mme Kettle?

Kettle said...

I find it very difficult to recommend 'The Biographer's Tale'; some people love it and some find it beyond boring. I say flip through it in a bookshop and see if you like the way it reads.

There are some beautiful descriptions in it which I know you'll definitely love.