Paul Auster, from Ghosts: "One night... Blue finally turns to his copy of Walden. The time has come, he says to himself, and if he doesn't make an effort now, he knows he never will. But the book is not a simple business. As Blue begins to read, he feels as though he is entering an alien world. Trudging up through swamps and brambles, hoisting himself up gloomy screes and treacherous cliffs, he feels like a prisoner on a forced march, and his only thought is to escape. He is bored by Thoreau's words and finds it difficult to concentrate. Whole chapters go by, and when he comes to the end of them he realizes that he has not retained a thing. Why would anyone want to go off and live alone in the wood?" Prisoner on a forced march? What an image to "concentrate" on. But then: "What he does not know is that were he to find the patience to read the book in the spirit in which it asks to be read, his entire life would begin to change, and little by little he would come to a full understanding of his situation... But lost chances are as much a part of life as chances taken, and a story cannot dwell on what might have been."

It took me ten years to read parts one and two of the trilogy. Wondering when I will ever get to the finale. I fared much better with later books, like Moon Palace and In the Country of Last Things and one other - title escapes me.

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Blogger John Sakkis said ... (10:03 AM) : 

i spent the summer of 2001 reading Walden...about the only thing i retained was Thoreau's bizarre hatred of farmers and agribusiness...i also got the feeling that he was a spoiled brat...

and what a refresher it was to read Civil Disobedience after Walden...


Blogger -k said ... (10:22 AM) : 

Call me the happy-go-lucky type, but I prefer the bleak landscape and gloomy ruminating language of his later _Cape Cod_.

I guess the main reason the Auster quote caught my attention was the word "Bramble," and you can guess the associations that came up vis a vis a recent chapbook. And then the Holocaust imagery too.


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