Category Archives: true stories

Anecdote on relative reading metabolisms, plus poll results

In honor of various people I’ve been around recently who read at a rate I find emasculating, I give you this story:

I was reading a book on my subway commute. I don’t remember which, but I’d just gotten to the point where I’d have stopped using the dust jacket flap for a bookmark if it’d been from the library. This guy was sitting next to me looking over my shoulder. I turned the page and he said, “You read pretty fast, huh?”

“I started this two weeks ago,” I said.

“…Oh.”

And he faced front. It was like I’d confessed a moral failing.

Anyway, despite my shameful reading speed, I’m ready to move on to Joshua Ferris’ Then We Came to the End, which beat out the other Joshua’s Take It, Samuel R. Delaney’s Dhalgren, and Natsume Sōseki’s I Am a Cat with two votes to their one apiece. This coincides with my return to semi-gainful employment, so the workplace shenanigans therein should have extra leverage to make me laugh and cry.

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there’s something in my book

This was stuck in Nietzsche:

nowaroniraqsticker

I bought the book in 1997 or ’98; so this would be the Clinton-bombing war in Iraq that December, not the current incarnation. I was in high school, and I had a friend who hung fliers protesting the economic sanctions all over the halls. She was in touch with some other people against sanctions, who then did not want a potential Iraq war to evolve into an actual one, and produced this sticker (it’s cut from a sheet of labels). I don’t remember discussing it much with her, mostly just being distantly supportive and accepting all invitations. This is how I ended up in Philadelphia paired up with a woman with lovely long gray hair who looked at me with her active listening face on as I equivocated about how I had no idea whether or not sanctions were effective and therefore, although I wan’t in favor of little children starving, didn’t feel qualified to have an opinion.

The same friend led to my buying the book. One of the first times I hung out with her outside of school, she told me she wanted to start a philosophy club. I told her I liked philosophy. By which I meant, “While I have never read any philosophy, I like books and ideas and any excuse to feel superior to others.” But we stopped at a bookstore and I bought what I judged to be one of the artier, more misanthropic options available, to prove my sincerity. The bookmark made it through thirty pages of prefaces before I put it back on the shelf. The last time I heard from the friend, she’d just started her philosophy doctorate.

I’ve now made it past the prefaces and some sections into the book proper. It’s slow-going. Nietzsche just scoffed at the idea that the chorus in Greek drama was the ideal spectator because the spectator didn’t see the play as real. I don’t think that’s what people saying that meant, you obtuse weirdo. I got the same voice-of-the-people-and-their-morality analysis when I was assigned Antigone in school. I may want to break between this and The Case of Wagner to read a comic book.

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