A recent story in The NY Times asked if stories have a future. If we’re blogging, texting, doing rapid response communicating, who cares about the narrative, tortoise slow and painfully digressive? Naomi’s comment that she needs to come up for air now and then from TGN to overcome the characters’ depressive tendencies makes me wonder WHY DO WE READ? What do we get from books; what are we getting from Lessing? I have just moved from NY to Portland, Oregon with 140 book boxes, the collected treasures of a life spent in books. In each box I am finding approximately one book per 30 worth saving. Looking at them all with fresh west coast eyes, I’m not sure what these books have given me. I can tell you what they’ve taken away: an ability to live a good life OUTSIDE of books. The books surviving the cut? Poetry, novels I vow to read (War and Peace, The Man Without Qualities, Mavis Gallant’s Paris Stories) and nonfiction where the writer is clearly in love with his material and intoxicated by his voice (Macauley, Gibbon, Nietzsche, Robert Caro, Doris Goodwin).
If I’d never read any of these books I’m chucking, would it have made a difference to me? What difference do books make?