Silent men

December 6, 2010

So I liked Holden better by the end. I found him a little more self-aware at the end of Catcher in the Rye than at the beginning. Not much, but a little.

At the same time I was reading Paul Auster’s new Sunset Park. Loved Auster’s work in The New York Trilogy and now that I see that my library has a few more novels I’ll have to explore more widely. But I was struck by this passage:

“…when she thinks of that generation of silent men, the boys who lived through the Depression and grew up to become soldiers or not-soldiers in the war, she doesn’t blame them for refusing to talk, for not wanting to go back into the past, but how curious it is, she thinks, how sublimely incoherent that her generation, which doesn’t have much of anything to talk about yet, has produced men who never stop talking…whereas with the silent men, the old men, the ones who are nearly gone now, she would give anything to hear what they have to say.”

I loved it deeply. I think it captures the malaise of our time (and Holden’s?) perfectly.

On rereading

October 20, 2008

I’m an avid rereader.  I can never understand those clutter shows where people say they should get rid of books if they’ve read them once.  I turn to books over and over again, many of them, many times.

I just finished rereading Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy, which I read for the first time in 2002.

It’s a wonderful book – well, a series of short stories, which I like even better – full of postmodern mystery, questions of identity, and readers and writers. And incredibly well-written and intelligent, but without ostentatious complexity.

I don’t want to give too much away, so what I really wanted to talk about was my experience of rereading. It was really fascinating to me, seeing what I had marked or commented on that held less significance upon rereading, or things I was absolutely shocked that I had missed the first time around.

I suppose what it really comes down to is a concept that’s actually mentioned in the book: the palimpsest, or a text where layers of meaning are built up (literally) over time.

So I’m thinking about my thoughts on the book. And the more times I read, the more layers there will be.

Doesn’t get much more postmodern, or more ancient, than that.