Endless Visitations

My obsession with Pablo Neruda began in 1987, when I found a couple of anthologies of his work in the poetry section of the Harvard Bookshop's downstairs sale section. I still own those books though I can't find them at this moment. Instead I am using Ben Belitt's Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda (Grove Press, 1961).

Neruda was a great poet for many reasons. For some he will always be the orator in support of revolutions, the statesman with words making wings of his intentions. For others he is the poet of the infinitesimal truth, hidden in intimate moments; and for others still he is the Goethe of his world, describing malevolent winds, demiurges of the soul moving over the earth, over the lives of millions. The great poet, like Walt Whitman, understands both the multitudes and the one.

Obsessions Revisited

There are many books over which I obsess for various reasons, foremost among them the fact that most books can never be fully digested, their subject is so elusive. This is the power of a book. This is why I still write, because truth is as slippery as literary craft. There are books I have fully and completely read, immersed in their subject, but which I return to years later with freshly bright eyes. For some reason, a book comes to represent an experience that re fulfills my need for a certain kind of experience over and over again. 


There are a few subjects that rarely rise to the surface for discussion. One of these is the condition of extreme age. Writers who reach their older years evade the subject, preferring to deal with it through metaphor, or by use of a story that takes place in the distant past. Few allow that the here and now can contain such difficulty. Tsaurah Litzksy is not one of these. Her new collection of poems, Jerry in the Bardo, deals specifically with the ailing years of her father, Jerry Litzky, who suffered from various ailments that lessened his ability to function as an independent human being, and eventually, to be accepted around others as sane and normal. Her book is suffused with an undying empathy for his struggles as an elderly person.
Starting when her father turned eighty, he began to exhibit behavioral changes that set him apart from what she knew of him at an earlier age. The challenge of infirmity for the elderly is only part physical, it is also primar…


There are many unfinished books in my history of reading. Many of the novels I read in college languished within this category for years, difficult but rewarding novels like William Faulkner's Sanctuary. But then I finally re-read them and it was worth the wait, for not only did I get to see how the story ended, but the story delivered surprises I would not have guessed at.

My newest unfinished book is Jane Eyre by Emily Bronte. I have been waiting years to read this book, always glancing at it while reading other things, even going so far as to read that one very singular first paragraph.

Every book that I read is affected by how I felt about the book that came before, and how long it may take to intellectually and emotionally digest. Jane Eyre suffered from two flaws. First, its historical distance from today, and second, its lack of content. Like any 'great' novel its content is its story. But the story has to matter. The characters have to be strong enough to pierce o…

Recent Obsessions

In the last few months, I have been reading books by two novelists in particular: Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse 5, Cat's Cradle) and Don Delillo (Great Jones Street, Falling Man). I don't know why these two have become paired in my mind, but I have been alternating on reading books of theirs, sometimes for the first or second times. I have also gone back into reading other classic books from my literary past, such as Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.
Sometimes I want to reinvestigate a specific author because I was lazy in regard to his work years before. Most of the novels I read in college, for instance, I never finished, and when I did revisit them, I was much surprised to find how very good they were. Some of these books I will be covering here, though I may not mention this one salient fact at the time.

Great Jones Street by Don Delillo was a book that evaded me. I think that I read it very slowly the first time, and the se…


This is a new blog I am starting to investigate the intimate function of reading and literature in everyday life. I was just on a well-deserved vacation that also happened to be my first-year wedding anniversary, and since I had a whole week on my hands, with nothing but free time, I let my mind wander. This is a luxury, I assure you. The life of a freelance curator and art journalist is rarely unbusy. Sometimes I have to be forced to relax. But when I find that space, it's usually with a book in my hands.