Thursday, November 30, 2006

Reading, ranting and `rithmetic

"So what are you reading now?"

I pause awhile and consider. I am in various stages of three books. One new and two, I've read before. My appetite is voracious and I devour anything that takes my fancy, from the highly literary (oh, only us select few read and understand these things) to the uplifting to the downright maudlin to the nice cliched stuff I've read a million times and continue to re-read cos it's like talking to an old friend.

Usually when someone asks me this they simply want to know what I'm reading. They're asking for information and also because I'm likely to plunge into the narrative, summarising it, telling them what I like, what I don't like, how it makes me feel...

But this person is not asking for information's sake. He has that air of conscious superiority. He asks to despise my taste. In which case I should say, "Torrid Lovers at First Embrace" or some such inconsequential tome (although I could probably argue that Bakhtin would have approved) and now despise me if you dare!

Except that I'm not Elizabeth Bennet and although he's contemptuous and forbidding, he's not Mr Darcy.

I would like to say a book of Virginia Woolf's essays and I'm up to Addison at the moment, but that would be approval-seeking. And I don't want his approval. Or to let him see that his contempt has affected me. The way to deal with contempt is to go the other way. As in, I'm too secure in myself to care what you think. I know I'm smart, too smart for the likes of you, who reads an article (or review) of a book or flips through reading only sections and then attempts to lay down the law on it.

Excuse me? I read the fucking book in question. Like twice. Or three times. I could quote great swaths of it, not to impress you (God forbid!) but because I loved it so much. How dare you come to me with your half past six understanding, with that slight sneer and bored, rather sarcastic expression and tell me what to think?

My lecturers didn't attempt to make me think one way or another about fact they encouraged me to disagree, to form my own opinions on the relative merits of Hamlet or Death of a Salesman and they gave me high distinctions for doing so.

Who the fuck are you to tell me what to think, you underbred wannabe writer?

So go ahead then, despise me if you dare.

Because you know what?

I sure as hell despise you.


QuillDancer said...

When book clubs go bad ....

goldennib said...

I used to know someone who only read the books listed as number one on the NYT best seller list. Idiot.

Jenn said...

Quilly: LOL

Nessa: Idiot indeed.