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 Millions‘ reading queue). That will take some time to compile, but for starters, and in no particular order, I’m looking at:
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.