Don’t know about you but I can’t get into anything at the moment. The idea of reading a book disconnected from the world’s COVID-19 toils and ailments, of a world that doesn’t exist anymore or only in the past, is just too difficult.
I did watch Contagion though. Didn’t realise it was a comedy (it isn’t really, I’m joking). No, it terms of reading, after finishing James O’Brien’s How to be Right I struggled for the enjoyment of reading – and it was nothing to do with the episodically interesting Mr O’Brien’s book deflating me. Twice I tried a bit of John Berger with To the Wedding and Pig Earth, but couldn’t get into either. Had a look at a bit of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, flicked through Thomas Berhard’s Old Masters, and poked at W.G. Sebald’s Austerlitz – but nothing. Nothing sparked. I just felt tired of trying to read. Think it’s fairly common. Or maybe it was the choice of novels…
Easier to spend an hour on Twitter or Instagram, to be honest. Hours of reading tweets. Reading trauma, conflict and friction. Bitesize deflation and depression. That’s not escapism though, is it? And wouldn’t it be better for us – escapism – than a deflating reinforcement, or a masochistic fix, of the challenges we’re enduring?
So, I’m going to try again. The recent 48 hour Twitter protest was pretty good for me – certainly reduced my screen time! The question is, what to read…? I think something a bit lighter than Berger, Fowles, Bernhard, or Sebald.
… Think I’ll go with Albert Camus, The Plague.
Detail of a detail from 'Nature morte au crane de boeuf' by Pablo Picasso