Literary Triage: Fighting Floodwaters With a Teaspoon

on Thursday, February 28, 2013
There comes a time in every reader's life when they must concede that, no matter how hard they may try, no matter how much they put the real world on hold to prove otherwise, they simply cannot read every book ever written. Much harder to accept, however, is the fact that they can't even read all the books they might want to read.

I resigned myself to the first point quite a while ago. The second, I am begrudgingly coming to accept now. Check out my current backlog of "high priority" titles and weep:

I've read twenty nine books so far this year and I've barely made a dint in the stack. And it gets worse. As the literary levee prepares to break for 2013, I now realise that I won't be able to read all the amazing books that are about to come out in the next month, let alone the rest of the year. I've already set aside March 7 as Coetzee Day, a special holiday that comes around every few years to celebrate a new release from The World's Greatest Living Author (In Anticipation of a Return To Glory)TM. I'm seriously considering instituting a William H. Gass Day too - at 89 years old, I figure the old codger deserves a bit of fanfare any time he graces us with some new pages. So that's the 12th of March gone right there for Middle C. Chuck in Javier Marias Day (March 8 for The Infatuations, only because Coetzee has already claimed his actual release day) and the Feast of Mohsin Hamid (28 March for How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia), and I've got the month pockmarked with days on which I shall be hanging a sock from my doorknob to politely indicate that I am not to be disturbed.

Looking back on my pile and then on to the horizon, I am both elated and dismayed by this act of triage that I've been forced to undertake. So many good books, so little time. And somewhere in amongst it all I want to write - the children's book I've been commissioned to do and "the novel" that has been clinging to my back with its gnarled claws for the past three years. I now get the appeal of religions that believe in reincarnation. If it wasn't for the likelihood I'd come back as a dung beetle, I'd totally sign up!


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