john receives the big, fat new york times, delivered to our doorstep bright and early each sunday. six or seven weeks ago he handed the book review section to me, suggesting I might want to read a review written by an author whose work I like. I perused it quickly, then filed the section away to be looked at when I had more time. and interest.
I am not much of a newspaper reader, nor am I one who enjoys reading reviews. I’m impatient with (and critical of) most journalists, and often find reviewers to be looking for and concerned about things I don’t usually find myself looking for or concerned about. so the book review section, folded in half, rested on my desk between folders filled with project information and my weekly calendar, waiting for me, patiently, for weeks.
another sunday rolled around and john handed me the book review section again, here, there might be something in here you find interesting. I dug into it, and read a review. then another. and then I decided to re-read the older section that’d been waiting for me. I read them both. and then the next week’s.
one of my first thoughts–this while reading a review of Vampires in the Lemon Grove–was this: I am not a new york times kind-of writer. I am not quirky enough, I don’t possess a mfa. I am not outre, I am not a wunderkind, I don’t live in soho and I haven’t attended the iowa writer’s workshop. I am just dedicated, committed, determined, and–since I’ve been gathering work for the past 15 years–in possession of a lot of as-yet-to-be-discovered work. I may never be an author who has a book reviewed in the new york times.
or I might.
I’ve been reading more reviews. I’ve been gaining a sense of the literary world according to the times. I’ve been paying attention to more author’s names, and I’ve requested a few books to read (I’ve just begun reading raised from the ground by jose saramago). I’m working to see where I–my beliefs and sensibilities–fit into the world I seem to want to join and has as of yet not answered my knocks and pleas for admittance. I don’t know that I fit there, but what I also believe–after reading these review sections–is that no one truly fits there.
last sunday the times was delivered and I asked john for the book review section. I read this review and skimmed that, and skipped over everything that didn’t call to me. I find myself in places; I am unequivocally absent in others. and this I know: I am my own unique being. I will never write short stories about female werewolves. I will not become an essayist, nor a poet. I can’t ever imagine writing a review of someone else’s written work. it’s unlikely I’ll ever write a political novel, nor an expose of someone’s life. or something so controversial or original or heartbreakingly staggering that the entire world stands up and takes notice. I will write what I have to write, and keep plugging away at it. the new york times book review may one day notice me, or it may not. either way, it will be what it decides to be, and I will continue to find within it gems and clay.
this isn’t a review of the review. it’s simply my reaction to it. I’m warming to it; I’m hoping it will become a better acquaintance, perhaps even someday a friend. I respect it; I acknowledge that I don’t have to love it. it’s a way to learn about the world of writers and written works. and maybe, along the way, a few more things about myself.