I’m still reading Vincent’s letters, and will be for quite some time. I continue with Thoreau’s journal, a fourteen-volume project. I’m about fifty pages into William Wetmore Story and His Friends, from Letters, Diaries, and Recollections, by Henry James, published in two volumes in 1904. I’ve begun the Library of America edition of John Muir’s nature writings. And I’ve just finished at Home with Disquiet, a wonderful new collection of poems by Erin Wilson, her first published book. (Erin’s name will be familiar to many of my oldest and earliest friends in the arts realm.) I’m considering, meanwhile, digging into The Life and Letters of John Hay, by William Roscoe Thayer (1915). Hay was a close friend of Henry Adams, as was Henry James. Muir was born the same year as Adams, 1838. My mother’s mother’s father, also named Henry, and who has nothing to do with any of this, was born in 1835 — nothing except that without him, and without a few others, I wouldn’t be here — if here exists, and is really where I am — if I exist, despite what seems my obvious presence — if — but I digress. Then again, Digressions are the sunshine, the life, and the soul of reading, as the creator of Tristram Shandy once said. Where does all of this lead? Nowhere. That’s the beauty of it. If you’re expecting or looking for results, or think that everything must add up to something else — why? It’s simply too much to ask of someone closing in on his sixty-fourth birthday, and who is every bit as excited about having frozen berries and mangoes with his banana and goat kefir as he is about reading, writing, and planting his garden. It’s taken almost my entire life to learn how to be this ordinary, and I’m not about to give it up. Unless you want me to, of course. I’d certainly hate for you to be bored.
April 9, 2020
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Tags: Aging, Diaries, Digression, Erin Wilson, Henry, Henry Adams, Henry James, John Hay, John Muir, Journals, Laurence Sterne, Letters, Library Notes, Library of America, My Mother, My Mother's Mother, Old Books, Poetry, Reading, Thoreau, Tristram Shandy, Van Gogh, William Roscoe Thayer, William Wetmore Story