In my literary travels, I’ve found a few way stations where I can pause, rest, collect provisions, and prepare to continue on. One of those literary way stations is The Quarterly Conversation edited by Scott Esposito. I chanced across this online magazine a few years ago when I was searching for information about Enrique Vila-Matas and found the essay, “I am not Auster.” I decided to write my own essay as a kind of celebration of what I sensed was a new model, a new (for me) way of writing about reading.
I try to resist the temptation to classify things or to apply labels, especially when I’m thinking about writing and what sort of books I like to read. What I find myself reaching for when I want to read are those texts which seem to defy classification: works by Sebald and Vila-Matas and Chris Kraus for example. When I read, I am enriched and inspired to write. Not all readers are inspired to write. I’d probably find more time for reading if I wrote less, but writing about what I read is a way of immersing myself more deeply into a text. Writing about reading is an act of devotion, an act of love. That’s why I don’t think of this sort of writing about reading as criticism. I don’t write book reviews. What I write are texts which spring from other texts. I write stories about stories.
In the virtual pages of The Quarterly Conversation is an essay by J.C Hallman that’s definitely worth reading: “The Story about the Story.” Words of a kindred spirit.