Work of a Reader

by Ann Bogle

A lot of new work has come out in the last week or so—I am enjoying it at a clip, in particular UnlikelyStories 2.0: The Cross-Media Issue and collaborations in Sugar Mule.  Now broadsides and experimental chapbooks and ars poetica.  Appreciating those in my office with its desktop is going well.  Reading fiction in bed is not going well at all.  I avoid the cozy room where physical books surround my bed in wait for me—books by fiction authors that I bought or checked out of the library—all due or recalled before I get to them.

In one of the greatest bookstore moments of my life, I bought the collected short stories by Chekhov (Ecco) and began with volume 1 (of 13).  “The Darling” is how far I got, but I had already read it.  That is followed by an essay by Tolstoy about women, called “Tolstoy's Criticism on ‘The Darling',” not to be missed!  I ended up snubbing George Orwell (Down and Out in Paris and London) like neglecting to meet a train.  I bought that book for its flowing brief sketches of lives of real people.  Then it gets worse—this reading of books—I go to the café and can only read a minimalist there, one crouton at a time.

My three Emily Dickinsons are in storage, but the boxed biography is here.  My Collected H.D. is at his house, a thousand miles away.  Then I get E.D. and H.D. from the library and read and quote and I forget the other books.  At the library, there are three areas: Children's, Fiction, and Non-Fiction.  Poetry is in Non-Fiction.  I read for a week at the Academy of American Poets.  I mean to but forget to get the Collected May Swenson from the library, but I read her online.  Then I go back to The Cross-Media Issue and see how much there still is to see and try to buy an item at eBay for Rain Taxi, but the auction must be over.  Then I read the Norman Mailer article at the kitchen table while eating beans.