It’s getting very difficult to read anymore analysis. My mind can’t focus on argument and the making of a case. It all seems persuasive, if only I can bet past the third paragraph, but a sledge of over-used terms and phrases bog me down and I have to look away.
I’m looking to fiction and narrative non-fiction. I have struggled to read fiction my entire adult life; I read to learn–personally, professionally, and politically–so novels have always felt like a luxury. Funny that now they are a lifeline. Station Eleven and The Plague, for starters (they don’t all have to be end-of-the-world stories, I suppose). It is surprising me to discover that the only things that can hold my badly worn attention right now are stories. What’s that about?
Even real stories. There’s an essay in this week’s New Yorker by a guy who moved to Lyon, France, and apprenticed under a baker that kept me up past my bedtime. Reading it prompted me to email someone I know who did something similar and wrote a book about it, just to recommend the essay to someone.
Recommending books and essays is a better use of my speech than the more natural, for me, alternatives of the moment: complaint, speculation, and the all-purpose shrugging of the shoulders. And who knew stories could be so important?