the log and the interior
lisa taddeo, sarah manguso, david sedaris, and thinking hard to yourself
It starts with Boy by Roald Dahl, which I forgot to mention in my last letter. While reading I feel like I suddenly understand why his books were Like That, which I am reassured by because it makes me think that being alive a is good enough reason to justify making art.
Then shortly after, Boy meets Maria by Peyo (Kousei Eguchi), which is interesting and sad, and I find out right after reading it that Eguchi passed away a few years ago at 23, which now feels to me like such a young age. I’m 22 and I know nothing still. I forgo novels and nonfiction and read a lot of manga at the end of July. Summer makes me starving for comics. It’s a routine that I’ve gone through without fail for maybe seventeen years. Life goes on.
In the middle of August, against the looming dread of summer ending, I read Calypso by David Sedaris, which was our book club’s monthly read. It was my turn this month to pick and I got all carried away with typing up book summaries about books I hadn’t read. I felt this thick undercurrent of sadness that the author kept glancing against, but not quite looking at directly, which makes it sound like Fleabag, but not nearly as funny. After that, I feel that a dam has been broken and I sit down and read Ongoingness by Sarah Manguso in nearly one sitting after calling some of my friends for hours. As Sarah Manguso does, she cuts through that goopy sense of time that being in a call put me in, and because I was thinking about the passage of time at night it took me forever to fall asleep.
Next is Animal by Lisa Taddeo, which is many things, including violent, immersive, direct, and so specific I feel as though she’s clotheslining me with some of the stuff she says. I resist the urge to say I love reading about unhinged women because I don’t want to boil things down, but.
A tall half-stranger emerged, wearing diamonds, face still rouged from the night before. She smelled like sour flowers. My brown wool life was all gone. — Lisa Taddeo, Animal
And then, at the suggestion of my friend F, I read The Employees by Olga Ravn (trans. Martin Aitken) in three frenzied hours, in which I constantly sat there, burning with that feeling of, I will never read something like this again. I will never write something like this ever. And it was translated so tenderly; when I finished I sat there thinking about how much the work of translators has really changed my life. Both in introducing me to the most gorgeous works and making me sensitive to languages: how they differ, but not by thaaat much, and how politically charged translation is. I won’t be recovering from this:
And what would it mean to know that these two rooms contained every space we ever occupied, every morning (November on Earth, five degrees Celsius, sun dazzling low in the morning sky, the child in the carrier seat on the back of the bicycle), every day (the ivy reddening in the frost on the outside of the office building) and every night (in the room below the stone pines, someone’s breath upon your eyelid), and that every place you ever knew existed there in these two recreation rooms, like a ship floating freely in darkness, encompassed by dust and crystals, without gravity, without earth, in the midst of eternity; without water and rivers, without offspring, without blood; without the creatures of the sea, without the salt of the oceans, and without the waterlily stretching up through the cloudy pond towards the sun? — Olga Ravn, The Employees (trans. Martin Aitken)
That’s all for this little bit. I liked literally every book I read this month.
thanks for reading, as always 💖📖