I’m always so grateful that I don’t like cheesecake because I don’t have to worry about the calories. By the same token, I am grateful that I stopped reading Joyce Carol Oates years ago so I don't feel guilty about not keeping up. She is far too prolific; she’s impossible to keep up with. I decided, after reading 50 pages of Jonathan Friesen’s first book, Connections, that I didn’t want to read any more of him, so I haven’t. And after all this time and my steadfast devotion, I have outgrown Margaret Atwood and anyway, she doesn’t need me. Oh, and remember The Luminaries, the GG Award Winner a few years ago? There was some argument whether Eleanor Caton (I’ll check her name in a minute…it’s Catton, and the book was published in 2013)…whether she qualified as a Canadian. Qualfiied or not, she wrote too big a book for me to commit myself to: eight hundred and some pages. Life is too short and I have work of my own to attend to.
It’s very freeing to make these decisions or to have them made for me. I read a review recently that began, “DAMN. Another writer I have to care about,” and I know how the reviewer felt. The writer’s name is Lawrence Osborne (I never head of him either) and the book, fortunately, is fairly small - 257 pages - “The Ballad of a Small Player,” published in 2014. I suppose I have to check out the reviewer, too; his name is Tom Shone and he’s also a novelist.
This is what has happened since I decided to catch up on my clippings. The follow-up is going to kill me - financially, at least. I have a whole long list of books I have to order and read.
Why not the library, you ask? For too much of my life, at different times, I lived geographically distant from a library and I got used to owning books. Then, too, as a writer, I feel that fellow writers deserve their royalties, as I do mine. Too often, at readings, I have had an enthusiastic fan say to me, “I love your book and I lend it to all my friends.” The best I can manage as response to that is a bleak smile. So I buy books. Besides, I mark them up. This is not called defacement, it’s marginalia.
But there is so much to own and read, SO MUCH, out there, and I am on a pretty fixed income now. I am going to have to seek out the TPL (Toronto Public Library). There's one within walking distance from where I live now. The walk will do my Fitbit good.