Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Storing words for winter

I've been reading some Spanish books lately (please regard the word "reading" lightly), but I've been missing reading English. I miss the poetry of the language I own, diving into it, and how enrapturing it can be, how it feeds me and influences my own writing.

I have two English-language books with me in Spain. This is very different from the United States where I have two for every day of the year.

I brought:

1) "The New Spaniards" by John Hooper, second edition. It's a very well-written and entertaining history of modern Spain. I like it. Well, I liked it; I honestly have no desire to read it now that I'm in Madrid and would rather place myself in beautiful old bars with smoke-stained ceilings, sipping manzanilla and talking to Spaniards.

2) "The Secret Lives of People in Love" by Simon Van Booy. I found this book of short stories in September and was enthralled by it. However, I cannot read it at the moment, as there are remains of masticated love still stuck between my ribs.

So in the midst of missing my language, today I bought a third.

In all honesty, I wanted to buy "Lolita" (both of my copies are in Boulder), because even just the first paragraph makes me want to slit my wrists in a dramatic sacrifice to alliterative craftsmanship. But the only version that Casa del Libro had was one with a soulless, forlorn-looking rubia on the front cover. I just could not walk around with that. Not because I care what other people think, but because it depicts a character I don't believe exists in the book.

Anyway. I bought Virginia Woolf's "To the Lighthouse." I've never read it, although I own a copy in the U.S. But I am hungry for poetry and it seems this might be what I am looking for.

[Our attention is drawn] to Woolf's poetic prose: her rhythms and images, her use of hard consonants in monosyllabic words in counterpoint to long, soft, dreamy words and phrases. "To the Lighthouse" plays back and forth between telescopic and microscopic views of nature and human nature.

In the introduction, Woolf writes of her novel:

I meant nothing by The Lighthouse. I saw that all sorts of feelings would accrue to this, but I refused to think them out, and trusted that people would make it the deposit for their own emotions.

And so inward I dive.

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