Reader’s Block

Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.”

- W.H. Auden

Confession time: I’ve been suffering from reader’s block.

In recent months I’ve started reading a handful of superb novels, struggled my way through as many as 200 pages, and – stopped.

I’m not sure why my lifelong habit of reading suddenly came to a halt, but it’s been distressing. Perhaps I can blame my lack of focus on the distractions of work and book promotion; or maybe it’s simply a seasonal thing as I’ve made my way through a busy winter devoid of sunlight. I wonder if Dear Reader has experienced anything like this?

Along came Elizabeth Bishop to the rescue. I was asked by Friend Sandra to write a blog post for her series, First Encounters, which is part of the Elizabeth Bishop Centenary blog. Writing it took me back to a Reluctant Blogger post from 2009, which then led me back to the first Bishop story I ever read, In the Village. The first time I read this story, a particular passage forced me to stop breathing for a moment while goosebumps crawled up and down my arms and I marvelled at Bishop’s word choices. During the re-reading, the passage had the same effect, only stronger (read it here and see what you think).

I turned the pages, finished reading the story, and kept going. There were poems and letters and essays to read and marvel at*. I kept reading and haven’t stopped. May it last…

(*Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters - The Library of America)

(Please see here for a list of readings I’ll be giving next week, and Atlantic Book Award information)

Categories: General.