I must admit I am loving the idea of pages versus the total number of books. I feel so much more flexible and less fixed on “getting through” books and really focused on content.
First up was Zadie Smith’s short story “Crazy They Call Me” from the most recent New Yorker.
This is the first of Smith’s work I’ve read (not from a lack of want of course–) and I am looking forward to explore more of her stuff soon. This story was about a jazz singer in the time of Lady Day. Essentially, she’s different from the rest of the gang– I got the sense she felt like she didn’t fit in. It’s also about aging, and the questions that people ask singers as they move through their career– who was that song really about? And towards the end of the story she writes, “They ask dull questions about the songs, about which man goes with which song in your mind, and if they’re a little more serious they might ask about Armstrong or Basie or Lester.” People are so fucking basic.
This was a great introduction to Smith. If you haven’t read her work yet, please do.
I am also still working on The Hidden Life of Trees as I mentioned last week. I got through about another 25 pages and am overwhelmed with research and facts that pour like sap from a maple throughout this book. Yesterday while reading I learned that beech trees are sneaky and they steal resources constantly from other species of trees to support their own– they are mega greedy. They will grow up over around and through other trees to get more light. And, beech trees grow together– you don’t often see a beech tree on its own, and if you do, it will likely die within a decade. The root systems of beech trees are integral to their group survival. Oak trees on the other hand, as you may have seen out in a field or elsewhere, stand alone just fine. They have much tougher bark — more like an elephant in comparison to our thin skin (ours being more like the beech). They have much thicker trunks, and very slow growth rate, to help them get through weather and such. I am looking forward to developing my obsession with trees and forests.
Lastly, I read all of Lorine Niedecker’s The Granite Pail. This is a book of poetry from a not-so-well-known poet. I identify with her more than any other female writer I can think of. This collection is a great start if you have not heard of her. She writers in the fashion of ‘condensing’ by which I mean to say she removes excess language and gets right down to the point. Here is an example from the book:
She understood Twitter long before it existed. If you are looking for some modern American poetry, look no further than Lorine Niedecker– her writing gives me the same sensation as re-reading a long, old letter from a great friend.
Saw Kate, fellow reader, today and she gave me Gratitude by Oliver Sacks, which I’ll look forward to getting started on that tomorrow.
Be well, friends.