Sunday, November 28, 2010

Speaking of Gatsby...

Someone somewhere found a sample page from Sylvia Plath’s copy of The Great Gatsby, above. It confirms the idea that great readers make great writers. (And I like that part too, Sylvia.)

I did my own underlining on a flight last week, en route to Omaha. I don't know why I bother underlining, as I'm usually the only eyes to read my favorite texts. I tend to hoard my best books for myself (I do! So terrible of me!) as I find that my friends often never read the novels I shove into their lives. My treasured books instead end up on a desk somewhere under a pile of mail, making the borrower guilty for not reading, and myself nervous for their whereabouts. I, on the other hand, love my books to death, pick them up often, and wish them the good night that they deserve.

I suppose that underlining helps us later find words and passages that once challenged, intrigued, shocked, or comforted. A writer will often nail a human emotion so exactly right that we feel cheated for not reading it before that moment, and worry that we will forget it later without a clear line drawn beneath its brilliance. "It's the ability to remind us of ourselves, of who we are in our essence, and at the same time deliver a revelation," Krauss once said about good fiction. So true.

There has been much underlining (and one found TYPO! Pg 142, last line. SCORE!) in Krauss's Great House, a few of which I'll share with you below. It's the least I can do, with the given knowledge that I probably won't loan you the book. Enjoy.

"When I first began to spend time in Belsize Park it made me queasy to see how carelessly Yoav and Leah treated the furniture that passed through their house, which constituted their father's, and their own, livelihood. They rested their bare feet and glasses of wine of Biedermeier coffee tables, left fingerprints on the vitrines, napped on the settees, ate off the Art Deco commodes, and occasionally even walked atop the long dining tables when it was the most convenient way of getting from on place to another in a room crowded with furniture."

"...and as he did I had a vision of our turret from the outside, a shining glass cabin containing two experiments in human life floating in a dark sea."

"And though I hadn't had more than three or four relationships, I already knew that each time the thrill of telling another the story of yourself wore off a little more, each time you threw yourself into it a little less, and grew more distrustful of an intimacy that always, in the end, failed to pass into true understanding."

"... those wonderful tree-lined roads planted with a ruler and a whip that you can only find in a place as anal about beauty as Europe."

No comments: