Tag Archives: Readers Block

Dear Virginia Woolf,

Virigina Woolf

 

Dear Virginia Woolf,

Greetings and salutations from the warm summer months of the year 2013. I am writing to discuss with you a rather personal matter – that of my 2012 Reading Goals, in which I did you a terrible disservice, dear Virginia.

Having been deceased these past 72 years, you are most likely unaware of
my resolution to read five of your works throughout the year of 2012. An honourable, realistic challenge, one would surmise. I had other reading goals, of course which I won’t discuss here, but am pleased to have achieved them – more or less .

As I reflect on my reading year gone by, I am filled with a sadness. And, something else, perhaps it is regret. You see, Virginia, my real failure, my greatest reading mistake was to leave my Woolf goal too late. I spent most of the year assuring myself that Time, devious as she is, was on my side. I was wrong, of course, as one often is in a head-to-head against Time. October appeared out of nowhere, tearing her way through my front door and into my life, underdressed, uninvited and without apology before I had read any of your novels.

All I could do was begin. I chose to read Mrs. Dalloway – and what a wonderful choice it was.

I had previously thought that streams-of-consciousness writing was not really my style, finding it a tad uncomfortable to read. However, the day of Clarissa Dalloway’s party was, what is the word? Entrancing. At times I was lost, wondering who or what was being described and how I’d arrived there. At other moments, I found myself swimming in the text, drinking in the way each word, considered with care and lyricism, knitted into narrative. I enjoyed drifting in and out of the minds of several characters, all preparing for the party at Clarissa’s house, all submerged in their own private worlds, with private thoughts and longings. It was a sadly-beautiful experience, if you understand what I mean. I was most confronted by the storyline of a man mid-battle for the remaining shreds of his sanity. In fact, I wonder how it came to be that you should have such an understanding of mental health issues? What had your experience of it been?

Dear Virginia, I found your writing excquisite, delicate yet robust, honest and unapologetic. I loved it, I adored it. But, it was not something I could so easily submerge myself in again so quickly.

I realised that to rush through another four of your novels would:
a/ probably not be possible given the late hour at which I had started my task; and
b/ would be disrespectful. Your novels require something, don’t they? Not just the usual sacrifice of time, laid willingly at the altar of Art by any lover of books. No, your writing requires an investment of another kind. Emotional safety, perhaps. You burrow deep, and deep you must burrow. Into the depths of humanity, into the soul, into what it means to exist and co-exist with others, relating, feeling, experiencing life in the shades granted by context and time.

So, given the above reasoning, I chose not to burl through four more Virginia Woolf works. Thus, I did not complete my reading goal and more importantly, I underestimated you, I underestimated what your writing would cost me – and what it was worth.

For that, I am deeply sorry.

I am so very grateful to have been acquainted with you through your writing, Virginia Woolf. I will read more of your works in future. I will not declare a number, nor will I vow to a timeline, but I need not do so – it’s not within my power to resist the gentle call of your prose. I look forward to where it will take me, and who I will encounter along the way.

Until our next meeting.

Your Reader,

Shan

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Reader’s Block? What Reader’s Block?

Greetings, Salutations and All That Jazz,

I’m pleased to announce that the dark night of this reader’s soul  (see Reader’s Block) has been well and truly demolished. Smashed. Obliterated. For now. I attribute this to a gorgeous little Op-Shop on the New South Wales coast and it’s towering disarray of dusty, un-catologued bookshelves lined with pre-loveds. I also thank Dan Brown for his easily devourable thriller “Angels and Demons” (2000) that broke the dry spell, providing an interesting read. Cheers.

Since the foggy cloud of reader’s blues has shifted, I’ve been at it with a firey vengeance and I’m pumped about the reading list I have in store for myself this year. I’ve just picked up an old favourite, your “IT” (1986) which, is magic, and the perfect balm to soothe the literature starved mind. Aside from the fact that it’s pretty terrifying, it’s just so wonderfully constructed, so mesmorisingly real. In Part 1, I’m fascinated by the literary devices used to hook the reader in and make them fall in love with the protagonists: all 7 of them. It’s brilliant. Each character introduced – be it one of the main 7 or otherwise, is unique and believable. With just enough of their history and context to understand them without being boring, the scene is set and already the reader wants to, no, has to know What Happens Next. What did the friends forget in Derry? What is the monster lurking in the shadow of their subconscious? “IT” is just sublime in so many ways… as long as you don’t mind being creeped out!!

Prior to returning to “IT” I also read Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” (1995). I’ve seen and loved the film adapatation with John Cusack, so I had an idea of what to expect, but the novel blew my socks off – without question I could have read it in one sitting. The film is quite close to the book – much of the movie’s dialogue is simply cut and paste from the narration in the novel, which is GREAT, because the narration is everything. The character’s internal monologue and processing of his life and what’s become of it is hilariously poignant. I think it’s fair to say, it has with considerable ease, snuck right on in to my Top 5 All Time Favourite Novels. “With a bullet.” Bang. I look forward to sharing more about that in future correspondance, Stephen King, but for now, it’s back to my hot beverage and favourite pastime.

Your Rejuvinated and Enthusiastic Reader,

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Reader’s Block

Greetings, Salutations and All That Jazz,

I have a case of Readers Block, Stephen King. I’m not entirely sure why – I’ve had ample opportunity to bathe in sunshine, book in hand, cup of tea within arms reach, a blossoming garden full of singing plants to provide a soothing soundtrack to many literary adventures.

Perhaps it’s that I just turned 29 and when you turn 29, you lose all desire to invest time and energy into make believe people in fictional worlds..? No, couldn’t possibly be! Perhaps it’s the pressure of now having Official Reading Goals looming in the distance where, much like an impending deadline, suddenly trivial things like watching tennis and investigating $10million houses on the web is extremely important and time consuming. That sounds pretty plausible actually.

Speaking of Official Reading Goals, I’ll have you know that I am absolutely no where close to achieving them. You’ll remember, I kicked off 2012 with the following resolutions:

  • 5 Stephen King books I haven’t read before,
  • 5 Virginia Woolf works, and
  • 10 Australian short stories.
  • (I also resolved to upload a new blog post every week.. I think my definition of ‘weekly’ is nothing if not flexible)

To be honest, they’re not difficult reading targets – I love your books, I enjoyed reading “To The Lighthouse” by V.Woolf last year, and I know the exact place where I will find 10 Australian short stories in one volume. It’s really not the “Oxfam Trailwalker” of Literature that requires months of training and a support crew to pep me up at intervals along the way. The only thing I can put it down to is a cold hard case of Reader’s Block. Perhaps a trip to an art gallery, or literary lunch is the ticket? Perhaps the Harry Potter series, or some Tom Clancy will energise me to pursue my reading goals? Who knows. Watch This Space.

On another note, you’ll be eager to know that some upcoming correspondence will include the following topics:

  • On The Finkler Question
  • A Word on Audiobooks
  • The Talisman

Your Struggling Reader,

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