I haven't had a book to be really excited about for some time. I've got things sort of scattered about the house that I'm reading, and I dip into them as I feel equal to the attention they require. About a week ago I was reading Andrew Marvell, happily, in bed. I've got a Terry Pratchett novel for those moments when I have no concentration. I'm reading Leopoldo Alas' La Regenta in Spanish, which is slow going but satisfying. I'm about 3/4 way through the first of the two volumes. I started dipping into Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws. And today I started rereading Faulkner's The Hamlet. And I just got a book on Grenadian history. So when I say I'm reading I'm sort of hopping among them and while they've all been good none of them have really spoken to whatever it is my mind is working on. I think that's why there are so many of them.
This is bad enough, but it would be worse if I were not writing every day.
But at last I did find something to read that was exactly what I needed. It was Fairfield Porter's art criticism, Art in Its Own Terms, which I had read years ago. But you see, if you read something years ago and you come back to it again, one of two things will happen.
1. You will wonder at your having liked such shallow, showy triviality.
2. You will find it better than you remembered it.
If (2) happens you are onto a good book--unless of course your taste is completely corrupted.
The reason I wanted the Fairfield Porter book was that I thought it might be nice to send to one of my small select readers. But I needed to make sure it was still good after all those years. It was better. So much better that I would read maybe a couple paragraphs or a page and then I'd get so excited I'd have to put it down.
And now I've lost it. The book I mean. Lost it downtown on Sunday. Can you think of any reason why I should not simply order another copy? Can I just do that? It seems such a simple solution.