Monday, February 11, 2013

Binge Reader

Until last summer, I was a binge reader.  I'd go for long periods of time and not read anything except stuff on the internet and the paper.  Then I'd go for a month or 6 weeks and read everything I could get my hands on.  That would satisfy something and I'd go back to not reading.

I liked reading when I was considerably younger, but I think I lost that enjoyment when I went to college.  I, like every student, had to read so much that I must have come to the point of wanting never to read anything ever again.  Then something would whet my curiosity and I'd binge read.

That was my pattern for many decades, until last August.  It felt like the start of any book binge, but then came September, October, and now it's February and I'm still reading like mad.  When I leave the house, I make sure my current book is in my bag.  When I get back, I make sure I take the book with me upstairs so I can read some more before sleeping.  (Truth be known, some of the books have brought on sleep.)  And if I finish a book and don't have the next book in hand, I panic.

I'm old school:  I don't have a reading gizmo and don't feel the need for one.  I like the feel of a book.  I like the act of turning a page.

What started the binge was a recommendation to read Cronkite.  We'd got into a discussion about him and the other person in the conversation suggested the new biography.  The same author wrote The Great Deluge, which he couldn't recommend highly enough, since he lived in Baton Rouge and was there for Katrina.  Cronkite turned out to be my kind of biography:  clearly, the author respected his subject but needed to take the warts-and-all approach.  The Great Deluge blew me away, not unlike Katrina did to most of the Gulf Coast.  I couldn't believe how angrier I got as I read it.  The twig was never my favorite president, but this was incredibly damning.  Infuriating.  It was by no means go-to-sleep reading.

I polished them off in a month and the urge to read had not been sated.  I thought about revisiting some books I'd read long ago to see what I thought of them now.  James Barr's Quatrefoil was maybe the first gay novel I'd ever read.  I'd forgotten most of it and I liked as things came back to me.  This started me down a gay literature path which has, by twists and turns and in fits and starts, pretty much dictated itself.  I was surprised how much gay literature our library system has, whether novels, biographies, non-fiction books, plays and poetry.  I'm working my way through the catalog.

For the most part, it hasn't been disappointing.  Idiot America, Mississippi Sissy, Victory and At Least in the City Someone Could Hear Me Scream come to mind immediately.  I re-read The Berlin Diaries, followed immediately by Christopher and His Kind...a fascinating tandem.

Naturally, I haven't kept a list.  I have, however, maintained an interest in reading and in primarily gay literature.  Right now I'm reading Alan Clarke's Rory's Boys, which should be turned into a Masterpiece Theatre series.  Next up will be A Perfect Waiter and I think then it's time to return to San Francisco and at least some of the Tales of the City.

I'm gay and I've spent many decades ignoring what's in print.  I read the newspapers and magazines and perused the porn, but it seems now it's time for me to catch up on books-in-print.  Suggestions invited.

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