My new blog on Tumblr and What We Read For

Here's my new blog on Tumblr: . I am just discovering Tumblr, and as I was wandering through it, I was led to a Publishers Weekly interview with author Claire Messud, in which she says:

"We read to find life, in all its possibilities. The relevant question isn’t 'is this a potential friend for me?' but 'is this character alive?' . . . .[Nora's] rage corresponds to the immensity of what she has lost. It doesn’t matter, in a way, whether all those emotions were the result of real interactions or of fantasy, she experienced them fully. And in losing them, has lost happiness."

Also, I was led to this statement by Jonathan Franzen in a New Yorker discussion on the same subject: "I hate the concept of likeability—it gave us two terms of George Bush, whom a plurality of voters wanted to have a beer with, and Facebook. You’d unfriend a lot of people if you knew them as intimately and unsparingly as a good novel would. But not the ones you actually love."
Jonathan Franzen, at

Finally, there is this blow-to-the-head quote from Franz Kafka:
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we're reading doesn't wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” 

If I had to choose which of my own books even partly resemble Kafka's idea of what a book should be, they would be: The Revised Kama Sutra (particularly the later chapters); The Killing of an Author; Father, Rebel, Dreamer (or Fathers and Sons, War and Love); Impressing the Whites ; and What We All Need.


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