So, what are you reading these days? If you asked me, I'd answer: newspaper articles, magazine essays, book excerpts, film reviews, political analyses, and much more. And then, to be honest, I'd have to clarify by adding I read all of the above while hunched over a computer screen, often late into the night.
Meanwhile, the new (and very tempting) Oxford American magazine, themed around Southern art, lies unread on my bedside table; a stack of books I meant to read gathers dust bunnies on the floor. I stagger to bed late, my eyes glazed and weary, my wrist sore from clicking and scrolling. Lord, what have I become?
I grew up loving books, real books. My mother would sometimes have to make me go outside to play in the summer, so much did I prefer the company of The Mudhen and the Walrus or The Kid Who Batted 1.000. And I still love books -- the smell of fresh pages, the promise of fresh intelligence or high adventure. I still like sitting under a lamp in a big chair, no keyboard, no clicks, just the soothing sound of a turning page every now and then. So I've made the effort lately to reunite with my old flame. I've begun reading words on, gasp, paper.
I began with the Bob Dylan autobiography, Chronicles, and found myself transported to Greenwich Village, circa 1961 -- a good place to be for an ambitious young musician and a wonderful place to read about for a guy who wanted to be Bob Dylan during his salad days. I learned that one of my favorite albums, New Morning, was made to confound the critics, and some of the songs were originally written for an Archibald MacLeish play. Who knew?
Books, what a concept.
Bruce VanWyngarden, Editor