I should mention I have no method to my reading. If I had, I would waste less time on unworthy books (ah yes, The Goldfinch…)
Currently I’ve chosen well. I am revisiting the illicit charms of Lady Chatterley’s Lover which I read in my early teens probably concealed behind a copy of Smash Hits magazine. The language is flowery and a little archaic. Tittering must surely be encouraged when DH Laurence repeatedly describes the Lady orgasming as having “reached her crisis.” As Constance advances in her sexual awakening, all the flowers are in bloom in the woodland where she trysts with the groundsman in his hut.
And hey, it’s Spring in the city. It’s practically a Monet painting outside (at least it was in Brooklyn Botanical Garden this week.)
In the novel I particularly enjoy the descriptions of the industrial climate around Nottingham in the early twentieth century: the pits and collieries that spill out the blackened-faced hostile pitmen who are considered almost animalistic by Constance’s aristocratic wheelchair-bound husband, Clifford. Do I sound like those people who say I buy Playboy for the articles?
As I turn onto page 234 of my second hand copy, I discover to my surprise two little pressed flowers stuck between the pages. Fifty pages later, another pair of petaled bookmarks. Like little flesh colored remembrances of Constance’s afternoon passions caught between the folds of her hastily straightened dress, maybe? Twin twinges of guilt tugging at her conscience? Reminders of the feel, the color, of his skin?When my blushing becomes unsightly, I run from DH Lawrence’s sweaty grass-stained embrace straight into the cold but assured grip of Graydon Carter. Vanity Fair magazine is always resting on the chair by the window that now looks out on our Monet Spring. I’ve lost entire mornings of writing to lollygagging with Graydon even though he manages to keep me at arm’s length––all his correspondence he entitles Editor’s Letter.
When I need to read superior writing to kickstart my own, I’ll perhaps lift my copy of Lucky Jim but then spend the afternoon belly laughing instead of writing. I’ll reread Saturday Night Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe squeezing gleefully into a booth next to his fleshy vulgar types. I’ll dip into Edith Wharton and concern myself all over again with what is to become of Miss Lily Bart. Or I’ll open the first page of Zoe Heller’s The Believers and fawn over the artistry of that first paragraph, that first line:
At a party in a bedsit just off Gower Street, a young woman stood alone at the window, her arms pinned to her sides in an attempt to hide the dark flowers of perspiration blossoming at the armholes of her dress…
Now, back to the deflowering of Constance Chatterley…My novel, Silk for the Feed Dogs, a sunny Spring read that follows a young fashion designer in the first flowering of her career is available here.