Book Me, Danno

I had hoped to get some reading done this weekend, but I did not make much of a dent — how could I when I have a stack of books awaiting me in every room of the house. I am serving a self-imposed lifetime sentence as a reader, and despite the fact that I am a relatively fast reader, the piles seem to multiply as I discover more memoirs and narrative nonfiction tales that intrigue me. Perhaps I will post a list of all the titles (an idea borrowed from The Millionsreading queue). That will take some time to compile, but for starters, and in no particular order, I’m looking at:

  • Pull Me Up: A Memoir – Dan Barry
  • Living With Jazz: A Reader – Dan Morgenstern
  • Book Ends: Two Women, One Enduring Friendship – Leona Rostenberg & Madeleine Stern
  • Getting Personal – Phillip Lopate
  • The Devil in the White City – Erik Larsen
  • Positively 4th Street – David Hajdu
  • These are in addition to All the Strange Hours: The Excavation of a Life by Loren Eiseley, which I just picked up from the library on the emphatic recommendation of a friend, and The Everlasting Stream, a beautifully written memoir by Walt Harrington that I began reading last night. The Eiseley book looks to be intriguing, though perhaps a bit dark; but it’s too soon to tell. Here’s the beginning of the second paragraph —

    Make no mistake. Everything in the mind is in rat’s country. It doesn’t die. They are merely carried, these disparate memories, back and forth in the desert of a billion neurons, set down, picked up, and dropped again by mental pack rats. Nothing perishes, it is merely lost till a surgeon’s electrode starts the music of an old player piano whose scrolls are dust. Or you yourself do it, tossing in the restless nights, or even in the day on a strange street when a hurdy-gurdy plays. Nothing is lost, but it can never be again as it was.

    On the surface, Harrington’s memoir is about hunting. Being an animal lover, this is not something I wish to explore even from a distance, let alone ‘witness’ in the intimate detail for which Harrington is noted, but it’s the details that draw me in – that, plus the author’s self-awareness and his promise of a larger story —

    My story is about: Alex, Bobby, Lewis, and Carl; my father, my son, and myself; rabbits, dogs, and shotguns; flora and fauna; blood and death; guilt and responsibility; ambition, achievement, and satisfaction; affection of the old rugged male as opposed to the modern sensitive male; friends as family; conversation as ceremony and affirmation not therapy and revelation; pristine moments; and, most of all, memory–the memory of it all told and retold, sharpened like a good knife blade, until the minutiae of living becomes the meaning of life.

    Despite my quest to get these books read, I do hate it when a book I’m really enjoying ends. And I suspect that The Everlasting Stream will be a compelling page-turner for me and so will not last as long as I would like. Still, it will be good to check one more off my everlasting list.