Why I now find long books daunting
I was interviewing Hanif Kureishi last week, and I asked, towards the end, what he reads these days. “Everything changes once you have children, doesn’t it?” he said. I couldn’t agree more. “I wouldn’t have the time to reread Middlemarch now. I read it several times when I was young, but now? No, there simply isn’t time.”After the interview, Kureishi said he had to pick up his son from school, bring him home, take him to a tennis lesson, and help with his homework. Not to speak of what he does for a living: writing.
Kureishi writes full-time, unlike, say, someone like me, who bankrolls his writing with a consuming day job. Add the stuff that goes into bringing up children, and you see that it becomes incredibly hard to squeeze out the time for a very long book one wants to reread.
Why, sometimes I find it surprising that I manage to read anything – and more surprising that I manage to write anything at all.
But it’s funny that Kureishi should mention . George Eliot’s monumental masterpiece is something I have been meaning to go to again for months. But that’s all there has been to it; I have not managed.
Now, about to go on holiday, I still don’t think I shall take along. You can read for hours on holiday (during one in 2007, I finished Updike’s Rabbit quartet) but somehow, I find the experience of reading with a child around on holiday not half as uninterrupted as it used to be when I was young.
Is that what happens to you too?
So: On this holiday, I shall take Lorrie Moore’s, Clive James’ essays, and probably Anne Tyler’s short novel, . Then I’ll buy books while I am away, and will be given some by friends/publishers etc.
What will I actually read? Tell you when this blog resumes next month.