Friday, May 27, 2011

Reading in the Bathroom

My current reading list includes: "The World According to Garp" by John Irving, "Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon (a descendent of Nathaniel Hawthorne, btw), Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," "Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini, and my list for future reading includes James Joyce's "Ulysses," and "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole. "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat Moon is on my ongoing list, too, although I haven't picked it up in quite a while. Timothy Schaffert's "The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters" is also on my bedstand as well as Roger Rosenblatt's "Unless it Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing."

Rosenblatt says of writing: "We write to make suffering endurable, evil intelligible, justice desirable, and love possible." Great literature attempts these noble purposes. Reading great literature allows one to participate in the humanity of it all. Think of "Don Quixote" or "The Grapes of Wrath" or "Frankenstein" and the humanity of it all. "Huckleberry Finn" or "Catch-22" or "Slaughterhouse-Five" or a James Thurber story and the humor of it all. The many ways these writers confront suffering and evil and explore justice and love is a testament to the possibilities of life.

I dabble in reading these various novels. Some are by my bed, another in the bathroom. Sometimes I carry one with me in my brief case. A favorite simile of mine is there is nothing as full as an adjunct English teacher's brief case. My brief case tends to function as my portable office/filing cabinet. So carrying that extra book around is only a sometimes thing as my brief case gains weight during a quarter or semester. Sometimes a book will be my easy chair in the living room, but the television is a distraction there, as well as my Barca Lounger's comfortable and nap-inducing leather texture. Reading in the bathroom tends to be a short lived exercise. And the bedtime reading often won't last very long if I am very tired. But I persist and have read Joseph Heller's "God Knows" several times during those short bathroom reading stints.

I like the eclectic quality of my current reading list. I like the smell of books. I like that they have heft and weight and are among the "things" of life. I go back and forth between the idea that we own things, and they own us. And I don't mind that my books "own" me.

There are as many combinations of books on a bookshelf, as there are permutation applications in algorythmic turbo coding combinatronic Eularian numbers, and as there freckles on faces.

So this recent painting is a snapshot of books I love and admire. Enjoy. A friend of mine suggested I could offer customized commissioned paintings of your favorite books as well. So there you go.

Bud C


Blogger Issyco said...

I love to know what others are reading, esp, English profs! Thanks for sharing! And the personalized book paintings are brilliant! Put it on Craig's List and there you go!!! Issy

10:58 AM  

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