It occurred to me today that more than half of the books I’ve read this year are books I had previously read. Part of this, I think, is that I’m trying to work on a comedic novel and am therefore trying to soak up as much “funny” fiction as possible. However, the other part of this is that I’m simply not as excited about contemporary fiction as I am about the great classics I’ve already read. This is, of course, a dangerous trap to fall into, as it invites a reader to lose touch with the ever evolving world of fiction, which still offers glimpses of brilliance despite the generally lusterless onslaught of books that are annually published.
Yesterday, I had the amazing fortune of interviewing a true literary titan, Gregory Rabassa, who first translated Julio Cortazar’s masterpiece HOPSCOTCH and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE among countless other Latin American masterpieces. This is the man who essentially brought (so-called) magical realism to English-reading readers. Interviewing this man was one of the highest literary honors I’ve ever experienced, and is worthy of a completely separate post (more to come). However, what I wanted to share was this: I asked Professor Rabassa what kind of fiction he was reading these days (he’s 90 years old), and he told me there is only one book he reads anymore, and that is Marcel Proust’s A LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU (in the original French). So hard core. So amazing.
So, dear readers, this is an open call for your comments. At what age did you start re-reading fiction? As for the Literary Man, these are the books I found myself drawn to re-read, again and again, and I’m only 30 years old.
- CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller;
- WOODCUTTERS by Thomas Bernhard;
- CEREMONY by Leslie Marmon Silko;
- FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS by Hunter S. Thompson;
- FICCIONES by Jorge Luis Borges;
- TO THE LIGHTHOUSE by Virginia Woolf;
- THE MOON AND SIXPENCE by W. Somerset Maugham.