"Just the jam and the poetry?" he said into my ear. I didn't know who he was. He approached me in the stacks as I browsed. He spoke BBC english and wore a slightly preening twisted smile. In my string bag, over my shoulder, I had a jar of cherry jam and a paperback John Donne.- Brother of the More Famous Jack, Barbara Trapido
There are several reasons that I fell in love with Barbara Trapido's Brother of the More Famous Jack, but perhaps the first one was this quote, found somewhere near the front of the book, and from which this blog takes its name. Trapido's writing is so sparing, so elegant, that this is just one of dozens of throw away statements that made me pause to enjoy the quiet skill that belies her simple descriptions. I have taken a couple of creative writing classes and can't tell you how many times I have heard that old standby: 'show, don't tell.' (which should tell you (or show you) a thing or two about the state of my own creative writing.) To anyone else struggling with this I would recommend reading Trapido if you want a masterclass in this philosophy. Anyway, the reason that this particular quote resonated with me, and the reason that I carried it around with me for weeks after reading it, and the reason that I kept flipping the book open to the page it was on, and the reason it inspired me to start this blog is because I WANT TO BE THAT GIRL. I want to be the girl who walks around with nothing but a jar of jam and a book of poetry. I love what that says about Katherine, the character, and I want a piece of it for myself.
I love to read, and I'm fascinated by reading- the what, why, and how of it all. In October I'll be starting my PhD which centers, in large part, on these questions. I'm excited about it. I wanted to create a blog as a way to keep track of my own reading, and my immediate responses to different books. I also want my reading to be an even bigger part of my life. Something I love about my degree is that it gives me the chance to extend the pleasure of reading a book by thinking more deeply about it, and writing about it, by really throwing my whole self into a text. I'm no book snob, I read for pleasure, and often that means reading things that are light, funny, and- yes- a bit trashy. It also means that I read a lot of more 'literary' books, which I appreciate passionately as pieces of art. I have a soft spot for children's literature, and the way it makes me feel. I will try and write about them all here.