Thursday, March 16, 2006

Dipping into books

From James Jones's From Here to Eternity (1951)
He went on a reading jag. It was the second real reading jag in his life. The first had been when he was laid up in the hospital at Myer getting over the clap that the rich girl had given him. They had had a good, though small, library at the Myer hospital and he had read his way through almost all of it with a dictionary at this elbow mainly because there hadn't been anything else in the GU ward to do. Reading, he found was like with pain, or a delicate appetite; you minced your way around the outside tasting this dish and that and getting more and more irritable. And nothing suited you, until you had made up your mind to promise yourself you would read every word on every page. Once you got yourself started and into it you weren't irritable any more and it was kind of fun, in a way.

He did that with every book in Georgette's Book of the Month Club collection, even the bad ones that did not sound true to life, at least not as he had become acquainted with life. But he was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt since obviously he had not known every kind of life (like, the life of the rich, say) and anyway, if you just shut off part of your mind from asking acerbic questions about this and that and limited yourself to just the words you read in through your eyes, you could almost believe all of them, even the worst ones. Besides, it was a good way to pass the time. Much better than newspapers. And it did not give you a hangover.

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