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August 05, 2017


Crikey, ObWi as psycho-analysis (something I never intended)! I only realised last night, as a result of this thread (and particularly what Pro Bono said about his wife), that the start of my loss of joy and connection with fiction, and in fact most books, coincides with the period when a reality-shaking (and quite long-lasting) traumatic event occurred in my family. It was nothing that doesn't happen to lots of people, but for various reasons it was particularly traumatic and devastating, and the after-effects linger to this day for me and other family members. Correlation is not causation of course, but I feel certain that there is a strong connection, and I realise I had subconsciously known this before now. And to support this theory, I also became a total wimp about current affairs etc, for example I can read nothing about the holocaust which might give actual, proper details of attrocities (could manage the wonderful book on Speer by Gitta Sereny because it is fairly free of them, but could not go near her apparently even better one on Stangl), and steer completely clear of the same sorts of things wherever and whenever reported (Rwanda, Cambodia etc etc). I have never read Primo Levi for the same reason. If something on the radio or TV suddenly strays into that territory I leap for the control, and any stray sentence that gets through is burned on my brain for years. I am not at all proud of this development, it makes me feel like an incomplete human adult, and a wimp, but there it is.

...one of those "why do I want to get angry about this all over again" things...

That's an interesting question, JanieM.

My own experience is that there's a lot of stuff that I might have no interest in revisiting for myself which becomes rather interesting when revisited with my children.
Getting a new generation's take on stuff is either a good way to stay young, or to remind you you're getting old. Sometimes a bit of both.

My re-re-read list is actually pretty short: Stephen King's "The Shining" and "ITThe Silmarillion - detailist as I am, I find Christopher Tolkien's endless re-editing of every note and question his father scribbled down to be of little interest).

1966 was also when I first started to read LOTR. I was 14, and taking a summer class before my freshman year of high school: I recall idly looking in a drawer in an empty classroom, and discovering a copy of The Fellowship of the Ring: a 3rd Printing of the "classic" Houghton Mifflin edition. At first, I was only mildly interested: some years before, at a private elementary school, the English teacher (a Britified-up Canadian and Oxford-don manqué, had decided to introduce his class to Tolkien's world by reading us The Hobbit right through: as typical smart-ass American fifth-graders we, thought the whole thing ludicrous and mock-worthy: but I decided to start in anyway: 51 years later, I'm still at it.

AAACK! Internet eated my comment!

After "IT", should read:... several works of military history by the late Sir John Keegan, Nero Wolfe mysteries (though at some years' remove so I can forget "whodunit"; and of course, Tolkien. Though I usually stop at The Silmarillion

A series I have reread several times (not every year) and plan to read again is the Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O'Brian. This is not fantasy, it is historical romance for adults, mostly on naval history during the Napoleonic wars. The battles in it are not Manichean conflicts with trolls and orcs, but mostly actual naval battles or thinly fictionalized versions thereof. Some of the exploits seem fantastic, but that's the kind of thing that some people such as Horatio Nelson and Charles Cochrane were doing then.

Also I reread The Origin of Species every once in a while. This can show you how to think scientifically.

Origin of Species....
on my to do list.

Is it readable ?

skeptonomist: you are in good company, many of us referred to O'Brian - I for one adored the books (although they tailed off rather), and to this day I might say to Mr GftNC (who adored them too) "he reminds me of Jack" or "he reminds me of Stephen", and he knows exactly what I mean.

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