Nothing to be Frightened of

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I am frustrated by a life that leaves me far too little time to read. Frustrated. Determined, though, I have carried Julian Barnes' Nothing to be Frightened of with me from client to client. I've sat with it in the dentist chair. I've read it while on hold for conference calls. I've stood there stirring a pot, the book in hand. You'd have thought I'd have finished it by now.

And why am I fighting so hard to find the time to read a book that is, indeed, a meditation on death and dying—on how people die (which is of course bound up with how people live) and on what people think along the way? Fear or acceptance? Defeat or glory? Ungainly irony or something worse? Well, to begin with, this is Julian Barnes, and he's riotously talented—stewing memoir and wit and philosophy and literary biography and fine vocabulary into a chapterless not-outright diatribe, not-clinical exploration, perhaps controlled rant is the term, that is nothing if not (and you know this matters to me) brilliantly choreographed. He's assaulting you. He's appeasing you. He's on your side and then he's all caught up with himself, as if he may be the only one facing ultimate extinction. No such luck, Barnes.

If I were reading that paragraph above I'd think, about myself, Someone should tell Kephart that it's Christmas, the season of birth and winter wonder. That right about now is when a poor fool like her should be curling up with some light holiday fare. But the thing is this: It's a privilege to watch a mind like Barnes' work over, around, and through the inexplicableness of death. It's exhilarating, as a matter of fact. Intelligence is never overrated.


pink dogwood said...

I am frustrated by a life that leaves me far too little time to read

Me too!!

Guess what two books I checked out from the library to read over the christmas break?

1)A slant of sun: one child's courage
2) Into the tangle of friendship : a memoir of things that matter

I am off from work all next week - I am really looking forward to getting to know you more through your books.


Anonymous said...

We're all going to the same place--it would be nice to go there with grace. I also need more time to read and more concentration. I've been distracted lately.

Amy said...

there is never enough time to read. this does sound heavy, but for me Christmas is very much linked with death. I find myself drawn towards darker reads at the end of the season as well.

Happy Holidays Beth, I hope you find time to savor the words.

septembermom said...

I love how you read while stirring a pot! That's dedication :) Sounds like a good book written with intelligence and passion. I'll have to put it on my list.

Merry Christmas Beth!!!

poetjanes said...

I love--reading while stirring! And Barnes is always a treat!

Happy Holiday!~

Woman in a Window said...

would it surprise you for me to admit that this book appeals to me
on so many levels? one i ache to soak up?

and then would it surprise you to learn that i most likely won't read it because i can't balance what little is on my plate already?

and it's funny because as i was about to read this post i was just considering how it is that you might fit in a fraction of what you do in a day...

  © Blogger templates Newspaper II by 2008

Back to TOP