In today's New York Times (online vesion) you can listen to six writers read brief excerpts from books that are essential to them. These are books they would never get rid of. (This being the end of the year, the notion of culling our bookshelves is present...) I'd never heard of three of the six authors (Frederick Exley, Scott Spencer, and Robert Burton.) And I'd never heard of four of the six writers asked to read. The link is here. In any case, books are books and I am forever plagued by the anxiety that I don't have time to read all the "important" ones. For whatever reason, I was intrigued by one of the selections, and, oh the joys of Google, within a couple of minutes my curiosity was satisfied. The selection was Frederick Exley's A Fan's Notes, chosen by David Matthews. Exley was mentally ill and alcoholic, and A Fan's Notes his first, and most successful novel. It's basically an autobiography. I read a review at bookslut.com. I don't think I'll read it. I'm not big on self-obsession, and Exley, from the very little I've read, sounds quite self-obsessed.
These days I've been juggling several different readings, including Daniel Boorstin's The Creators, which has been on my bookshelf for many years. I've picked it up often, never having made it through more than a few chapters at a time. I've had many failed attempts at keeping lists of all my readings. (They often begin in January.) Yesterday it occurred to me that perhaps I need to try a different way of categorizing my lists. Maybe I should make the list first: here are all the books I should read... then go about checking them off one by one. Maybe... In the photo, Frederick Exley. Finally, in looking for the photo, I came across this interesting reflection by writer and journalist Alan Bisbort: I drink...)