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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


The Woman Upstairs - Claire Messud
"I was imagining telling her about my feelings, or I was imagining her confessing, in her particular lilting way, that she found me beautiful, or thought me a great artist, or on one occasion I imagined her saying that she could not now imagine her life without me. What conversations we had, in my head!

... Sometimes I'd picture the three of us, installed in a farmhouse in Vermont, or in Tuscany, or in a thatched bungalow on a Caribbean island, in order that we might live cheaply enough to make art, and grow a resplendent garden from which to feed ourselves. I knew the layouts of these various houses, the unfolding of their rooms. I built them in my mind, and we inhabited each of them at different times. I knew how the morning sunbeams fell in slats upon the terra-cotta floors in Italy, and the sounds of chickens scrabbling in the yard outside, audible as soon as you opened the casement window. I knew how the snow from the field behind the house reflected white in the bathroom mirror in Vermont, where the steaming water in the clawfoot tub smelled of sage, and Sirena, stepping into the bath, dropped her slippers--Moroccan babouches--one and then the other on the pink and purple round rag rug in the middle of the white painted wooden floor. I knew the kiss of the rising Caribbean wind, warm upon my ruffled arm hairs, if I stood in the shadowy doorway and squinted at the passing schoolchildren in their navy and white uniforms, kicking up dust as they ambled by, and I scanned their knots and clutches for Reza, his laughing olive face among the chocolate and coffee faces of his peers ...

And even as [it] seemed completely surreal--sturdy-skinned bubbles unconnected to the standing traffic or rows of cereal boxes or the almost sweaty duvet which surrounded me in reality--these imaginings were more vivid and more alive to me than much that I could see and smell and touch.

In spite of myself, for several months--and in some less pressing way, for several years--this state of fantasy was ... the country to which I largely decamped and in which I preferred to stay .

... I knew it was potential rather than actual, but I didn't understand that it wasn't Real. I didn't see that I'd made it up... I built houses, and entire lives, upon those beliefs. "