thinking about books that aren't new

I’d forgotten. A few years ago I was sleeping with someone who was somewhat, vaguely interested in exploring things in bed. I don’t even really remember what the specifics were. Not because I’m sad, but because after sad I forget. I can’t even remember some of the people I’ve slept with, let alone what they liked in bed.

I’m thinking about it now because I just remembered that I was reading a book at the time where some of the characters were into some kink-esque things. Again, I don’t remember exactly what. I read too many books, I always have, so details escape.

I thought of this all again because years after I read the book I met it’s author at a conference. We were sharing a table for our small presses and fell in love. I don’t think I even told her that I’d read and loved her book because even though it was not that many years apart, a year, a year and half, maybe two, it felt like a different life. By the time I thought to tell her we’d already been chatting all weekend and drinking and gossiping and to say it so far into our bond felt weird. I guess I’ll tell her by sending her this blog post.

Even though I was already living in New York when I read the book, it was my Early New York time before I knew other writers and got books for free and felt pressure to keep up with publishing trends and ignored emails from publicists because there’s too much book work and not enough money and reading is pretty much all I do outside of friendship and working at the bar, but there’s still not enough time.

I thought about this all again because now I run a literary magazine and we’re publishing a piece by the writer who wrote the book that I read and thought related to my sex life and then met at the conference years later. It feels so weird, by which I mean what feels weird is how it doesn’t feel weird at all. How relatively quickly it all happened.

I read a line about this in a book recently. I think it was Bad Behavior, which I just finished, but it’s at my new apartment and I’m at my old apartment so I can’t look up the exact line. But it was something like how the progression of your life seems less surprising when you’ve been building up to them for a long time. You get used to the small changes.

I’ve spent so much of the past year and a half feverishly reading pre-publication books, either to maybe review them, interview their authors, or think about doing either of those things and then decide against it, that I got really tired. Not of reading. If I ever get truly tired of reading I’ll have to kill myself because it’s the only thing I love. That’s only a slight exaggeration. I love hanging out with my friends but I get overwhelmed. I love eating nice food but you can’t do that all day. I love drinking but I have to do it in small discrete amounts because I’m weak and I hate hangovers more than I love drinking, and I think what I really love is the social situations that drinking produces, which brings me back to the ‘getting overwhelmed.’ I like going to the movies and seeing art and going on walks and runs but not love. And that’s it, I don’t really like anything else. I hate stand up comedy and I hate watching tv and I hate talking to strangers and I hate sports and I hate crafts, all the things I can think of that people claim to do for fun.

Oh, and I love writing I guess. But writing and reading and talking are the same in a way.

So anyway, (now that everyone’s ready to kill me,) I got tired of reading all the new books because it was just this constant pressure to have a take and an opinion and not to be rude but when you’re only reading new books they all start to run together. There just aren’t that many masterpieces in a given year. (Though there are some! The Recovering comes to mind.) So first I started breaking it up, one new book then one old book. But then a few weeks ago I realized that I’d finished up all my assigned interview books and hadn’t requested many ARCs for the summer because I was too busy and I thought, hey, why not ride this for as long as I can and just read old shit for a while. (I’m sure this won’t last. I’ll get an assignment or I’ll catch wind of a book that I’ll have an Opinion about etc. But for right now it is nice and I am happy.)

When I say I’m reading old books, I don’t really mean old old. I mean anything that is not forthcoming. But a decent variety of age. I’m working my way through The Company She Keeps, a fabulous book of Mary McCarthy short stories from the 1930’s about, among other things, bad times with men. That one I’m trying to write about soon. I read Sula with my family for a long distance texting book club. I read Asymmetry (on the newer but not forthcoming side, I think it came out late last year,) for a book club that I am starting! HMU if you want to join.

I’d been meaning to read The Idiot for a while so I caught up on that but tbh was not a huge fan. Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion but I don’t need excessive detail in books. I do not care about every students art project in a college class. However I did love the narrator’s wry sense of humor about totally not understanding how other young people act. I also read it because I’m trying to finish a draft of my novel which is also set at a university. I keep saying it’s almost done and then realizing scenes I need to add. Le Sigh. Hopefully this month. It needs eyes that are not mine.