Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Gratitude: The Pleasures of Reading
The ability to read. I just finished reading my friend Keith Ferrell's lovely piece in Aeon, an online Brithsh magazine (here). This is a simple, thoughtful piece of writing that I'd say ventures over into serious literature because Keith is capable of doing that. He's one of the few writers I know--and I know a lot of writers--for whom literature is within reach.
Time was, I couldn't have read this piece by Keith and would have been--was--poorer for it. As a kid, my attention was diverted easily and I didn't read. I'd been a professional writer for seven years before I finished reading my first book (Tarzan of the Apes). I got drunk for 25 years and didn't read then, either. I was still writing for a living, but not reading. I often grinned, dismissed any criticism and said, "Hemingway didn't read" without finishing the sentence with "but I'm not Hemingway."
After getting sober a few years ago, I set to reading and it became an obsessive, compulsive game of "how many can I read in a month?" That wasn't much good, either, because I was frantically trying to play catch-up. But it moderated and now I can read a book or stream a video and enjoy both. It is a lovely feeling, the option to read. And it's mine now. Permanently, I hope.