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Notes of a Chronic Re-reader
4 hours 27 minutes
“Striking a balance in my reading these days is a challenge, like so much else. I want reading with feeling, but not too much; reading with truth, but not too much; reading with poignancy, but certainly not too much. Unfinished Business hit this slippery target beautifully. I was ready for this book, ready in the way Gornick defines it: "responsible for every successful connection ever made between a book and a reader—no less than between people—is that deepest of all human mysteries, emotional readiness.” It is with that stark perceptiveness that Gornick revisits her life’s reading and re-reading of a handful of favorite authors. Her connection to the characters, plots, and themes shifts with each reading, so all the while she is crafting beautiful reflections on her own life’s unfolding. It’s a book I wish I could read for the first time again and again to capture its magic, though I suppose I will have to be content to simply re-read it.”Kim, Phinney Books
One of our most beloved writers reassess the electrifying works of literature that have shaped her life.
“I sometimes think I was born reading…I can’t remember the time when I didn’t have a book in my hands, my head lost to the world around me.”
Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-reader is Vivian Gornick’s celebration of passionate reading, of returning again and again to the books that have shaped her at crucial points in her life. In nine essays that traverse literary criticism, memoir, and biography, one of our most celebrated critics writes about the importance of reading—and re-reading—as life progresses. Gornick finds herself in contradictory characters within D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, assesses womanhood in Colette’s The Vagabond and The Shackle, and considers the veracity of memory in Marguerite Duras’s The Lover. She revisits Great War novels by J. L. Carr and Pat Barker, uncovers the psychological complexity of Elizabeth Bowen’s prose, and soaks in Natalia Ginzburg, “a writer whose work has often made me love life more.” After adopting two cats, whose erratic behavior she finds vexing, she discovers Doris Lessing’s Particularly Cats.
Guided by Gornick’s trademark verve and insight, Unfinished Business is a masterful appreciation of literature’s power to illuminate our lives from a peerless writer and thinker who “still read[s] to feel the power of Life with a capital L.”
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