Saturday, August 02, 2008

Brian Doyle's lovely writing in the Oregonian

I certainly enjoy reading essays by Brian Doyle in the Portland Oregonian, and I mean to write and tell him so. For example, he had a great piece on the value of newspapers - I think it was last Sunday July 27 - and now, because one of the values of newspapers is that readers can savor them slowly over a week - I am finishing the 7/27/08 Arts section with Doyle's essay on "The Freedom of not reading a book to its mind-numbing finish" which most of us can relate to. True confessions: Once in college at Bryn Mawr, I intentionally decided not to finish some of my philosophy reading of Plato - first time I had consciously not done homework. Felt so liberated. My roommate was shocked that this was my first liberation of intentionally not doing homework. Well, I was a bit of a nerd then (maybe now too). Anyway, mostly I do finish - but lately I am really bogged down in Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Love, Pray which everyone says is so wonderful - even Anne Lamott, who blurbed the book and whose opinion I totally respect. Here's Lamott's comment from the book's website:
Anne Lamott on "Eat, Pray, Love"

"This is a wonderful book, brilliant and personal, rich in spiritual insight, filled with sorrow and a great sense of humor. Elizabeth Gilbert is everything you would love in a tour guide, of magical places she has traveled to both deep inside and across the oceans: she's wise, jaunty, human, ethereal, hilarious, heartbreaking, and God, does she pay great attention to the things that really matter." -- Anne Lamott

So I "should" finish. Especially as a dear friend gave me the book. But Gilbert seems contrived and Lamott is genuine. I mean, Gilbert so conveniently got an advance for this nifty concept - three "I" countries - Italy, India, Indonesia. That's so cutesy. So, Gilbert - while I may not have put you away forever - you are no longer on the bedside table. Maybe another day - when I retire perhaps? I can now take Doyle as my expert on putting aside books that are not clicking. I just won't tell anyone.

PS: By the way, to sort of explain why my posts are a bit sporadic - when I have time to blog at home on weekends, it's so slow with dial-up modem.


Blogger Laura said...

Yes, yes! Amen to not finishing books and feeling fine about it! Thanks -- I just read Doyle's article.

This all reminds me of a bookseller I knew (back when I was making a small living being a bookseller myself) who would ridicule the masses of readers who ruin the value of books by reading (and underlining) the first ten pages and then quitting. "Oh, 99% of all marked books are marked only into about 10 pages. People don't finish books," he would say as if it was a sign of the demise of civilization.

But I remember thinking that he should know above all others how many ka-trillion (my new word) titles are published every year, and that if readers aren't a bit picky and don't move on to the next book when the one in their hands doesn't grab them, well, they're just wasting their precious years. (Yeah, it's probably also true that some, especially younger?, readers are getting more impatient and want more instant-gratification, but...)

Oh, and a friend of mind gave me a copy of "Eat, Love, Pray," too. She raved about it, and made me promise to read it. I haven't yet, though. Left it in Yakima, actually.

But yeah, that three I's thing does sound a bit too cutsey.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Gloria Ives said...

Liberating, Yes. Why should you ever subject yourself to writing that simply doesn't grab you? Writing like Brian Doyle's does grab you, in every grab-able way.

6:46 PM  

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