Old Novels as Therapy

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From Publishers Weekly:

I am a published novelist and a rabid reader, but I’ve been stalled in both those areas. Between the cultural tumult and my almost-15-year-old dog’s terminal kidney disease, I’ve become a worried political activist and an exhausted canine hospice caregiver.

. . . .

Between my dog’s IV drips and endless treks up and down my four flights of stairs to walk her, I found I cannot concentrate on reading new novels, let alone meeting new characters and remembering who everybody is. So suddenly my reading habit—a great source of joy—stalled.

In these incredibly dark days, I’ve found solace talking to people I’ve known since childhood. And, likewise, I realized I need books with a personal foundation already in place: books that I already know are outstanding, that I know will transport me—books that I trust because of my long history with them. I have such books already on my shelves, but I also bought a couple more.

I’d read a library copy of Percival Everett’s God’s Country in the past, and I bought a new one from Bookshop—assuring him a royalty, a local indie bookstore a sale, and me the leisure to take my time and mark it up for my second reading. I bought a used edition of And the Birds Rained Down by Jocelyne Saucier, translated by Rhonda Mullins, from Better World Books, whose profits support literacy programs, and I read it twice within two months, taking as long as I wanted to savor the delectable prose.

. . . .

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read my paperback and my parents’ 1951 hardcover of The Catcher in the Rye, and it is beckoning again. In these rough times, there might be something sweet about hanging out with Holden Caulfield.

Likewise, I’ve lost count of my readings of A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole’s brilliant and hilarious novel whose rejections may have contributed to his suicide. How could publishers have ignored this book? How could a writer do something this original and alive and not meet the sort of welcome that would include the Pulitzer Prize he posthumously received?

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly