The title of this blog comes from the last line of Seymour, An Introduction and I figure that's a pretty good place to start. With Salinger, that is. Because right here is where I plan to write about reading, not even so much books, but really whatever I'm reading. I'm just going to be writing about reading, if you follow.
It all started like this. Just two days ago, I was walking down the street with an Encyclopedia Brown book in my hand, when it occurred to me that I had a whole lot of thoughts about every single book I have read or even glanced through. And being the compulsive writer that I am (and having very little actual paying writing work these days) I thought I might write freely (note use of the word freely) about things that I was reading. Or even walking around with. Like, for instance, Encyclopedia Brown. How I greedily read through those books as a kid! And here I watch as my daughters (ages 6 and 9) read them just as greedily. Observe as Encyclopedia Brown solves the mystery of the egg spinning contest in which one of the eggs (the winner) was actually hard-boiled and Encyclopedia figured this out by realizing that when the guy behind the counter said "Let me sweep up this mess" instead of "Let me mop up this mess" the egg in question was not raw! (This, by the way, is the one Encyclopedia Brown story I have carried with me into adulthood, even though as those stories go, there were plenty of, er, racier ones.) You can see the appeal though, right? A smart-ass kid, called "Encyclopedia" because he's so brainy, is actually respected for his intellect, even by adults! And weirdly, even glancing through the book as an adult, I find myself wondering, "How did Encyclopedia know?" (turn to page 54 to find out)
But back to this quickly and slowly business. That's pretty much how my life goes. My instincts are always to go quickly. For instance, I read in this kind of freakishly fast way that may actually be a kind of speed-reading I taught myself as a kid when reading at a normal rate was not fast enough. I walk quickly too. And I always try to do at least two things at once (walking and reading is one example). But I have been shown that slowly, when slowly means consciously or thoughtfully, is actually the better way. And yet still I try to do both at once, especially when I'm reading. Maybe this is okay. Like I will sometimes fly through a first chapter and then go back and read it again. Once, in the case of Susan Minot's Rapture, I read the book and then immediately read it again. It's a short little book. It's not her best book, but it's good. And then there are the books I must have read a dozen times, like all of Salinger's books, which brings us back to how I started this post. And this is how it ends: "Just go to bed, now. Quickly. Quickly and slowly."