On Rereading

Maybe you can’t go home again, but you can (and should) reread good books:

… you come to a book the second or third time with a different hunger, a more settled sense about how far off the previously-mentioned great horizon really is for you, and what you do and don’t have time for, and what you might reasonably hope to gain from a later look. Every time I open a book for the first time I feel I’m taking a risk. It’s part of the great excitement of reading. It’s like standing in the street and watching a glistening, sequined tightrope walker traverse the empty space between tall buildings. If he falls, I’m implicated because I’m watching. Though maybe he won’t, and I’ll be implicated in a triumph.

But with rereading, less is thrillingly at risk—though it can still be thrilling. Everything just seems to happen on solider ground—not high up. In that sense, rereading is more like what we originally meant by reading—an achieved intimacy, a dappled discernment, the pleasures of volition, of surrendering, of time spent lavishly, the chance of glimpsing (but not quite possessing) the heart of something grand and beautiful we might’ve believed we already knew well enough.

From “Rereading,” by Richard Ford (Eighteen Bridges magazine, Fall 2010).

Published in: on May 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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