Books on Vacation
Just got an email from the wolves, who’s in Buenos Aires. Subject: “Gravity rainbow” [sic]. Body:
Is getting torn up faster than a Kenyan runner.
You get the point. Misra is in a park in 75-degree B.A., tearing Pynchon to pieces. I know the feeling, and it’s great. Vacation is the best time to read: you’re open to every word, and you’ve got no real time constraints. I took down 100 Years of Solitude in Australia, and it’s still the most lucid reading I’ve ever had.
I get the feeling, albeit to a much lesser extent, when I crack a novel at lunch. I used to do this all the time at my summer job when I was a teenager. I’d go to the park or the benches by the Capawock theater, pare down to a T-shirt, and let some unsuspecting novel just have it. I’d fly for a few chapters before my internal clock would go off at about 10-til, whereupon I would find a good stopping spot two or three pages away. It was so exhilarating knowing that I’d be slamming the book shut at the end of those thousand or so words.
And now the thing is that I just did this. An hour ago, I pulled out Midnight’s Children and moved over to “Secret Park,” a square-cut green space on 28th Street that’s my preferred alternative to Madison Square Park. I took off my sport jacket, rolled up my sleeves, and pinned the book to the table. Rushdie got owned. It wasn’t quite vacation, but it was something like it. I wasn’t just in India. I was in a time machine.