So, I’m nearing the end of my first reading of Turgidovsky’s Delicious Air of Life. It’s taken me a little longer than usual, but then it isn’t what you’d call an ‘easy book’. One recalls the words of Franz Ludo when asked what he thought of The Lunatic. ‘I’d rather cycle through a cesspit with a shark on my head than read that again’. And he calls himself a critic!
Of course, there are ways and means of ensuring that one doesn’t get too bogged down in a book, of which ‘active reading’ is the most obvious. Perhaps Ludo consumed The Lunatic whilst sitting on a sofa, as many readers do, or lounching about on his bed (also a popular reading venue). A mistake, of course. To keep on top of a book, one needs to make more of an effort than this. Oh yes indeed.
To give some examples from this past week, during which I have been reading Turgidovsky’s new novel as actively as I can, approaching each chapter from a different perspective. Chapter One I read in the bath. Chapter Two I read on a train. Chapter Three I read curled up in the airing cupboard (to my wife’s evident surprise when she came to collect a sock). Chapter Four I read whilst running around the garden (it’s not a long chapter). Chapter Five I read standing on my head. Chapter Six was read to me by my wife whilst I recovered from reading Chapter Five. Chapter Seven I read under the influence of half a bottle of scotch. Chapter Eight I read lying naked on the kitchen floor. Chapter Nine I read sitting on the front porch balancing a walnut on my head (rather unsuccessfully, I’m ashamed to say). Chapter Ten I read on a bus whilst being abused by schoolchildren. Chapter Eleven I read at the bus stop in the rain whilst waiting for another bus. Chapter Twelve I read with my head inside the fridge, surrounded by the delicate aroma of blue cheese. Chapter Thirteen I read under the bed in the spare room. Chapter Fourteen I read sitting in a ditch. Chapter Fifteen I read in a public house. Chapter Sixteen I started reading in a library but, disliking the atmosphere, continued reading in a supermarket. Chapter Seventeen I read whilst a friend threw tomatoes at me and Chapter Eighteen I read whilst I threw them back at him.
Which brings me just about up to date, I think.