It's All Good
Today I had the Times Book Review, left over from Sunday (guilt! guilt!). Sometimes the Book Review has nothing much I want to read; other times I read it pretty much cover-to-cover, even the essay (which I generally tend to skip). This week's Book Review was one of the all-good issues--even the cover piece, a review by Jay McInerny (who irritates me) of a book called Indecision, from which I garnered the lovely word abulia--the inability to make decisions. There were also reviews of The First Poets (about Greek poets); Room Full of Mirrors, a biography of Jimi Hendrix; 100 People Who are Screwing Up America (I didn't make the list, darn it); When Affirmative Action was White (about all the New Deal reforms and other social programs that were engineered not to help blacks); and The Pope's Daughter, a biography of Felice della Rovere, the daughter of Pope Alexander VI. Am I going to read all those books? Probably not (though the one on della Rovere sounds fascinating; I may have to hunt it out). But just reading the reviews I now know some things I didn't know yesterday, and have some questions I wouldn't have thought to ask. The essay was good too: about the rise to the status of folk heroine of a Cambodian woman, Hout Bophana, who was tortured and murdered by Khmer Rouge because she wrote a series of passionate love letters to her husband (it's also about how the essayist's book, in which Bophana was profiled, brought her to public attention, but it wasn't her story I was interested in).
As I got off BART in Daly City and folded up the Book Review, having wrung pretty much everything out of it I could, I had a twinge of that guilt thing. What am I going to do with all this data I've imbibed? It has nothing to do with the current project, God knows. It's possible that The Pope's Daughter might be related to a project I've been contemplating, but that may just be my rationalizing getting a book that sounds interesting. The guilt thing chitters away (bad girl! reading for pleasure, when there's research to be done?) and yet, I know things now that I didn't know this morning. I'm a writer, and collecting magpie bits of information for later use is what I do. It's all good. Thank God for that.