Right now I’m reading PULPHEAD by John Jeremiah Sullivan, a collection of personal essays about public things, like a Christian music festival, a post-Katrina Red Cross shelter, Michael Jackson, Axl Rose, and that’s as far as I’ve got. He wrote a good memoir, too, called BLOOD HORSES, about his relationship with his father and our relationship with horses. It’s beautiful and haunting, and reveals something both new and old about these sturdy-fragile creatures that we’ve harnessed to do our terrible bidding. And by that I mean fathers.
Also holding down the bedside table: Cheryl Strayed’s WILD with its sad-shoe cover, HOW IT ALL BEGAN by the nicely-named Penelope Lively, and BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2011, edited by Edwidge Danticott, in which the list of titles alone reads like a found poem: What Broke My Father’s Heart, Beds, After the Ice, Grieving, There are Things Awry Here, Patient, Magical Dinners, Topic of Cancer, The Washing, and Unprepared.
Finally, the last sliver of A LITTLE HISTORY OF THE WORLD by E. H. Gombrich, which I’ve been working on all winter. Ostensibly written for children, it’s a lucid and gripping account of our history “from the stone age to the atomic bomb.” I’m as far as Peter the Great, of whom the author said, “He was not a nice man, but he achieved what he wanted.”
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