Tag Archives: reading

Black Wave by Michelle Tea

Black Wave by Michelle TeaThis book. So beautiful. A delectable collision of intelligent prose with the viscera. So visceral, and so smart—the sentences hold an intelligence beyond any I can think of, even, in a way, beyond Didion’s. But the sentences aren’t overly smart in a told-you-so kinda way. They’re smart in a way that has faith, more faith than most sentences have, in the reader. The book, the story, is so dark and so light. It’s a gift, really.

Black Wave was my first encounter with the work of Michelle Tea, and I can’t wait to read more of her work. For now, all I can do is urge you to read Black Wave—knowing that it’s written for adults, and has a lot of very specific, intense detail about sex and drugs—and today I offer this passage.

Michelle Tea, Black Wave, p. 151:

“Where did your own story end and other people’s begin? Michelle wrestled with this question. After her first book came out she’d been invited to give some lectures and teach some workshops, and always the people who came were females, females who wanted to tell their stories. Their stories being female stories, there was a lot of hurt inside them—abuse, betrayals, injustices, feelings. They were all worries about getting in trouble for writing the truth. They didn’t want people to be mad at them. It’s Your Story, Michelle would insist.

She wanted to free them all, all the girl writers. Girls needed to tell the truth about what the fuck was going on in this world. It was bad. It was brave of the girls to let themselves stay so raw, though Michelle worried that some of them had had to conjure personality disorders in order to cope. Sometimes the girls were too much even for her, Michelle wondered if she could handle another piece of writing about sexual abuse or sex work. But it seemed that this was to be her job upon the earth. If you don’t tell your story, who will? It was important. Our stories are important.”


Read the whole book and you’ll understand its uplift.




Brightwood, by Tania Unsworth (Author interview)

Brightwood, by Tania Unsworth

Read this wonderful book!

A couple years ago, when my daughter chose an advance reading copy of Tania Unsworth’s Brightwood at the library (a prize for the reading program), I had no idea we were in for such a treat. The cover looked a bit scary, so I decided to read it to her. (You can read the Kirkus review here.) It is a little scary. It’s also a lot beautiful and interestingly complicated: a tribute to Ms. Unsworth’s belief in the capacity and imagination of the child.

My daughter and I both fell in love with the book. I wrote a fan letter to Ms. Unsworth, and she replied, which began an imaginative and generous correspondence with me as writer-mother, and my daughter as reader.

As the paperback release was approaching, I asked Ms. Unsworth if she would mind my daughter asking some interview questions, and she graciously agreed to be interviewed for the blog.

Merida and I hope you enjoy the interview. And of course we recommend you buy the book!



Describe Frank’s background.


Frank is not the main character in BRIGHTWOOD, although she probably thinks she is. She arrives at Brightwood Hall when Daisy (who is the main character), is in desperate need of help. Frank isn’t a ghost, although she does appear in black and white. She’s more like an imaginary friend – a very bossy and delusional one. She’s an explorer from a different time and place, and for the whole of the book (set in an English stately home) she believes she’s actually in the Amazonian jungle, pitting her wits against a rival explorer. But she has an odd way of getting to the truth, and her advice is not quite as ridiculous as it seems. She was my favorite character to write, and even though I finished the book some time ago, I’m not certain she got the memo. It’s possible she’s still out there, having all kinds of adventures without me.


What was your inspiration for writing Brightwood?


I loved the idea of writing about someone who has never once been outside their home. Daisy doesn’t know what lies beyond the gates of Brightwood Hall, and so she’s made the beautiful old house into a whole world. A kind of magical kingdom. When Daisy’s world – and her life – is threatened, she’s forced to confront reality. I felt that situation had the potential for a powerful story.


How did you get the idea for the non-human characters?


My best ideas come out of problems. The biggest problem I had when I sat down to write the book, was how to tell the story with only two characters. There was Daisy, all alone in the house, and there was James Gritting, the mysterious relative who turns up a little way into the story. Daisy’s mother is mostly not in the action at all. It is very hard to make things happen in a story without interaction between characters, dialogue, the exchange of information, and all that good stuff. Simply describing the thoughts in one person’s head makes for very dull reading! So I knew that Daisy had to have people (or a rat!) to talk to, even if they weren’t – strictly speaking – real. She would need to have an extraordinary imagination to do that. By creating non-human characters, I solved my problem of how to move the action along, and I also gained an insight into the character of Daisy herself. Two birds with one stone!


How long have you been a writer?


I’ve always been writing, even when I was quite a little child. I got my first book published when I was about 35.


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?


My dad was a novelist, and my mum wrote poetry, and I grew up thinking that writing was the best way to spend your life. I always knew I wanted to be a writer, although for a long time I told myself the opposite. I was frightened of failing at it. I thought because I found it hard, that meant I was no good at it. It took me a while to realize that writing is hard whether you’re good at it or not. And being frightened of failure doesn’t mean you’re going to fail. It just means you’re frightened. And you can write while frightened. You can write while frightened, and while finding it hard. So that’s what I do!


What were your favorite books when you were a child?


I liked fairy stories, and Greek and Norse mythology, and historical novels about Vikings, and the Narnia books, and stories about animals like The Call of the Wild, and anything to do with adventure. Or ponies. Also, school stories, and comics, and poetry…I guess the answer is I liked everything!


To read more about Tania Unsworth, please visit her website.

Reading Krusoe

Krusoe_sleep garden

Jim Krusoe’s newest novel from Tin House

“If a person will only think about it, the first fountain pen was
undoubtedly the human body itself, with its seemingly endless
(till death do us part) supply of ink.” —p. 165, Parsifal

“A fountain pen forces no one to read its words.” —p. 224, Parsifal

As I read Jim Krusoe’s writing, which I’ve been doing for a decade and a half, I find it simultaneously familiar and strange. In his work, I hear a persistent drumming behind the prose, a call. My ears strain to grasp the sound; it’s just beyond my reach. It occurs to me that it’s similar to how the musician Bill Frisell allows his past themes to reemerge and weave into the texture of the new, Don’t I recognize that from somewhere? Familiar, strange. By these haunts, I’m both lulled and awakened. What does that memory mean this time?

In Krusoe’s work, that mystery gives me permission to dream while I’m awake. Or, perhaps, as Krusoe puts it on p. 75 of Parsifal: “Somewhere there must be a word, some technical term, for a combination of anticipation, nostalgia, and dread.”

Then there are the pens. The protagonist of his last novel, Parsifal (Tin House, 2012) repairs fountain pens. (Reminiscent of the protagonist in his first novel, Iceland, who repairs typewriters.) This persistent loyalty to archaic means of capturing story on page is a comfort in our era of disembodied ones and zeros. In the narrative weave of Parsifal, a sort of Aesthetics of The Fountain Pen emerges:

“‘In my experience,” Parsifal tells those who ask, ‘there are two kinds of people: those who enjoy complications and subtlety, and those who do not. If you are not the sort of person who enjoys complications and subtlety, then a fountain pen is not for you.’”—p. 191, Parsifal

I write first drafts on paper. The fountain pen is my primary tool. Wait! Am I “the sort of person who enjoys complications and subtlety?” Am I really? Or do I like things more tidy? Complications and subtlety are so messy! So uncomfortable! But evidently so appealing, so attractive. As a person who (apparently) enjoys complications and subtlety, the fountain pen thread was one of the primary pleasures as I read this novel. If we can trust the narrator of Parsifal:

“During the first years of fountain pens, prior to the actual Golden Age, which was roughly from 1910 to 1950—prior to the invention of the ballpoint, in other words—it is a little known fact that no fountain pen came with the small clip that holds it snugly inside a pocket of a shirt. That was invented by George Parker, of the Parker Pen Company, and ever since then it’s hard to imagine a pen without one (though some pens are still made this way, primarily for the Japanese market). So it is possible for something to come from nothing: no clip for many years, and then suddenly, a clip. And now, with the fountain pen practically extinct, the clip lives on, attached to ballpoints, and roller balls, and mechanical pencils, and laser pointers.”—p. 246

Jim Krusoe was my mentor in graduate school, and since then has continued to be a significant influence, inspiration, and support. In the classes I teach, we sometimes discuss why different writers write. I’ve never asked Jim why he writes, but I wonder if there’s a clue in Parsifal on p. 181, “Who was it that said our sole glory as humans is to leave behind a record of our crimes and desires?”

(Was it Jim Krusoe?)

His next novel, The Sleep Garden, arrived at my house yesterday. I cannot wait.

Reading at Antioch College Local Writer Series

I'll be reading on Wed., Nov. 12, 7pm, at the Coretta Scott King Center at Antioch College.

I’ll be reading on Wed., Nov. 12, 7pm, at the Coretta Scott King Center at Antioch College.

I’ve been invited to read from my novels and shorter work at the Antioch College Local Writer Series. The reading will be on Wednesday, November 12, at 7pm at the Coretta Scott King Center at Antioch College (Livermore Street, across the street from the main Antioch towers). The event is free and open to the public, and I hear there will be snacks (and maybe a little glitter!).

Stories help make us more human!

One of many fantastic books by Vivian Gussin Paley

And yes, I grant myself that exclamation point!

Here’s an interesting piece by Annie Murphy Paul about the neroscience of reading fiction.  It validates things that many know intuitively: among other things, reading fiction makes more empathetic humans.  (And it slashes through those conversations–conversations which, frankly, piss me off–about how nonfiction is somehow more important than fiction in helping people deal with “the real world.”  I love that the study corrects for things like whether people who are more naturally empathetic read more fiction.  Take that!)

Described in the piece is how we register sensations as we read descriptive language: how the evocative qualities of words like “cinnamon” work our sense of smell.  This aligns with something I heard the poet Cathy Smith Bowers discuss: when we read a word aloud, its sound affects us emotionally, but even when we read a word silently on the page, our bodies experience similar sensations.  As a writer of fiction, all this helps me understand why I care about what I do.  Why it’s important to make stories.  As a reader, it all sounds very true.

Last night, I finished reading Vivian Paley’s book, A Child’s Work.  Its emphasis is on the importance of fantasy play and stories in developing a young child’s ways of processing and coping with the world.  All the books by MacArthur Fellowship recipient Paley that I’ve read have moved me–she is a gifted writer, and her subject is so vital.  In her work, in addition to her observations as a wise teacher, she records and shares dialogue from real children in real classrooms, making sense of their real worlds and lives through fantasy and imagination.  In this book, Paley rightfully despairs at the push to bring academics to children too soon, leaving less and less time for preschool children to dream and do their natural thing.  Among many passages in this book that move me and are so true, Paley writes, on p. 102:

“Every day brought me new evidence of the preeminence of fantasy in children’s thinking.  It has reinforced my certainty that we perform a grave error when we remove fantasy play as the foundation of early childhood education.

We are going too far in the opposite direction.  Some school people feel that because young children engage in magical thinking we must pull them on to another track as early as possible; having added extra years of schooling to their lives, we are emboldened to counteract fantasy play with ‘reality-based’ activities.

Is this not the adult version of magical thinking?  To imagine that the purpose of early childhood education is to reorder the stages of human development is like the story of the prince who was turned into a frog.  In attempting to turn children into creatures that are unchildlike, we ignore all the messages young children give us as they play.  The frog turns back into a prince when the princess recognizes his need to be treated with kindness and respect.  In the case of our children, this would include the kindness of acknowledging that their perceptions and premises are not the same as older children’s or as our own.”

This idea of how we think we can reorder the natural stages of a child’s development haunts me.  Paley’s work speaks to me in particular now as the mother of a young child.  And pausing to read it has helped me slow down enough to more fully engage in the play my daughter is about.  So many of her sentences start with “Pretend that…” and I’m paying closer attention, and doing more active pretending with her.  (It’s good for adults, too!)  But anyone who is interested in stories and storytelling and their central importance to our humanity ought to read Paley’s books.  The Boy On The Beach is a really good one, too, and gets at why storytelling is important to building communities.

Now, back to my story in progress…

Into her drawers and shadows (Joan Didion’s Blue Nights)

Haunted Didion

As I read Blue Nights, Joan Didion’s repetition of images and phrases hypnotized me, as did her peeled and still-peeling layers of story.  As with The Year of Magical Thinking, here I felt Didion recounting memories in the way we actually experience them.  As if she set out to articulate against the linear necessity of language: one letter, one word, one thought at a time, arranged tidy in a row, which is one way we make sense.  The intentional fragmentation of narrative was accessible and didn’t fall off the page (or render me lost in the land of “what the fuck?”) because of Didion’s clarity.  Because of her sentences.  And perhaps because of the fact of what she was doing: the narrative act of slowing down, examining, opening drawers and closets brimming with iconic possessions.  As Didion names these ghosts on p. 45: “The objects for which there is no satisfactory resolution.”  The detritus of the lives of the people she loves best, and lost.  As she opens each drawer and tells the stories of what she finds, she assumes the role of docent in the Joan Didion Museum of Loss.

(In the essay “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” Didion writes: “Someone works out the numerology of my name and the name of the photographer I’m with.  The photographer’s is all white and the sea (‘If I were to make you some beads, see, I’d do it mainly in white,’ he is told), but mine has a double death symbol.”  I read that passage again after I’d read The Year of Magical Thinking, and could not avoid thinking of her life story’s foreshadowing in that moment, the double death that awaited her.)

In addition to the quandary about what to do with all that stuff (and my own eventual stuff, should I live long enough, outlive someone I love) I felt the writer’s grief and discomfort at the ache of questions she turns over and over, things upon which she shines a light, unable to avoid the vast shadows of murk.

Shadows which, despite the fact that some people, including me, happen to believe Didion walks on water, do not flatter her.

There’s something about that peeling, that sad onion, those haunts, her willingness to shine light despite what might crawl out, which makes me feel more human.

Cinderella, what big, sharp teeth you have!

Because of my recent rants about princess stuff, a friend recommended Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein.  I finally read it.  It was great.

It was great even through the lens of Orenstein’s preaching to the cliched choir (me).  It was great despite how depressing it was to read what inspired the Disney Princess phenomenon–in 2000, a new executive at Disney went to see Disney on Ice, and noticed, to his horror, that the girls wore HOMEMADE princess dresses.  In the small gowns, rather than creativity at the hearth, he saw a missed merchandising opportunity.  Thus the Disney Princess brand was born.  (And now we have girls clad in shiny, generic, made-in-China garb, rather than homespun results of someone’s invention.)

I live in Yellow Springs, Ohio, a bubble like Orenstein’s city of Berkeley, both places relatively more immune to over-the-top materialistic madness than much of the U.S.  This book was great because it was reassuring to read someone thinking about how to revolt against the default definition of femininity as only and always about what girls look like rather than what they do.  And not only is Orenstein thinking about how to revolt, she’s done her research.  She backs up her arguments.  As a journalist, she seems responsible in her work.  Her credibility as a person in the narrative is crucial to how therapeutic this book was to read.  Throughout, she’s grappling in plain view with the same questions other parents are.

It’s overwhelming to consider how to fight the subtle and unsubtle corporate power of entities like Disney.  My four-year-old daughter saw the Disney Princess undies at Target, and it’s all she wanted.  She could not be easily dissuaded.  (I bought them.)  The other day at Goodwill, I steered her away from the shelf of half-clad Barbies in the toy section.  I lured her to the books, figuring that was safe and we could get out without her wanting to buy yet another “baby.”  (She has always loved her “babies” and it’s often a struggle to convince her she has plenty of plastic mouths to feed.)  In the book section, she found a shiny pink Barbie book called Little Sisters Keep Out.  She does not know what Barbie is, though she’d seen them on the shelf.  She saw the book’s cover and said, “It’s a princess book!”  Ironically, I had just finished reading Orenstein’s book the night before.   I stood there, holding my own literary find–a gorgeous illustrated Aesop’s Fables–and reminded myself I had grown up with Barbies, and I turned out okay.  (Yet, like Orenstein, my self esteem was not helped by Barbie, nor by Seventeen Magazine, nor that iconic, tarted-up teen, Brooke Shields.)  Like the “I grew up watching too much TV and I turned out okay” argument, my Barbie excuse thins when I think too hard about it.  I bought both books, though I refused to read the Barbie book to her.  I told her that I didn’t like the kind of story inside it.  She said, “I love it.”  I told her those kinds of stories say girls can only do certain things, like brush their hair, not run and jump and climb and do fun things like that.  “But they go to the playground,” she said.  (One picture shows the dolls sitting on swings.  She decided she would read the book to her babies.  She makes up stories about the plastic dolls in the photos, and we have a compromise.)

Now that we grownups realize what TV does to a young person, or what all-pink-all-the-time (not to mention the focus on how a girl-to-woman looks rather than how she feels) does to the feminine psyche, we have the power (the responsibility!) to make better choices.

Let’s!  Let’s.

For me, all roads lead back to Buffy.  A slayer, a killer of demons.  Always fashionable, sometimes wearing implausible slaying footwear (but hey, she’s the slayer!) she takes care of herself and by “takes care of herself” I do not mean a pedicure.  In a dark alley, Buffy is the one kicking ass.  The final paradigm shift of the end of the TV series still makes me cry, every time I think of it:

“From now on, every girl in the world who might be a Slayer, will be a Slayer. Every girl who could have the power, will have the power. Who can stand up, will stand up. Every one of you, and girls we’ve never known, and generations to come…they will have strength they never dreamed of, and more than that, they will have each other. Slayers.  Every one of us. Make your choice.  Are you ready to be strong?”

Buffy wasn’t taken seriously at first.  She grew from a blonde teen cheerleader to a strong woman who changed the (fictional) world.  She spawned a small academic field called Buffy studies.  (And yet I found a Buffy dress-up game, where you can change Buffy’s clothing as if she were a paperdoll on the screen.  Sigh.)  The size of the problem of raising a strong, confident female person amidst well-funded and deeply entrenched corporate sinisterness makes me tired.  I have no answers.  But Orenstein’s book gave me hope.  Maybe parents will read it and meet together, talk about alternatives to the madness.  Maybe this kid’s parents read the book.  Maybe this kid can help start the revolution.

Maybe we will start making our own costumes again.

The kid-think of Room (novel by Emma Donaghue)

Many Moons Passed with the Wolf at My Door, by Angela Treat Lyon

The first book I read after fall quarter had dusted down was Emma Donaghue’s novel, Room.  I can’t avoid “reading as a writer,” and thinking about how the writer does and makes her thing, but wanted to immerse myself, so I refused the urge to take notes.

The narrative procedures used in this book are inseparable from the sensational story, which is, to quote the Wikipedia entry, “told from the perspective of a five-year-boy, Jack, who is being held captive in a small room along with his mother.”  The book is a page-turner, sure, but what kept me riveted was the grace with which Donaghue sustained the narrative told, first-person, in a young child’s words.  It’s of particular interest to me because I know it’s so damn hard to do.  (My novel, The Watery Girl, is told from the point of view of a seven-year-old, but I didn’t want to limit myself to her language.  So I used a close third person, still intimate, often imbued with thoughts and words directly mined from the protagonist Claire, but third person allows space to wiggle language.  First person really locks you in.  All writing is artifice, but if you want to convince a reader like this one, you better stick close to what a child would actually say.  And more than that, Donaghue’s Jack breathes the breath of childhood, lives out its logic.  I’m convinced her sentences are true kid-think.)

As I read Room, I kept holding my breath (not only because of the story) to see if Donaghue could sustain that thing with the kid.  She did.  There was not one moment when I disbelieved I was reading Jack’s true five-year-old thoughts.  Yes, Jack is precocious and smart, but the writer explained his particular intelligence so effortlessly when needed, and made clear that Jack’s mother worked hard to engage her son in his (albeit tiny) world.  Reading about their life in Room, I was enrapt and also exhausted, imagining how hard it would be to live in a single room with a child, non-stop, for five years.  (Putting aside the whole ordeal–the sheer exertion of the character’s work as a parent was amazing.  And yet believable.  I bought, without question, that Jack was her redemption.)

When I opened the book, I didn’t know the plot, just the premise.  As I read, I wondered how Donaghue would sustain the claustrophobia of one room for an entire novel.  When I realized their situation was about to change, the novel became “about” something very different from what I expected.  I was glad.  Thinking, as I have been this year, about brain plasticity and pinning many hopes to that idea, it fascinated me to read and consider about how Jack might (or might not) adapt to life outside Room.  And like many who have read the book probably have done, I wondered whether we each have a Room of some sort of other that’s shaped what we expect and want from the world.

I want to read more of Donaghue’s writing, soon, because anyone who can do what she did in Room is worth the time.

The hands of a storyteller

“The first sentence of every novel should be: ‘Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human.’  Meander if you want to get to town.”

This is from Michael Ondaatje’s book, In The Skin Of A Lion, which I blogged about here.  When I first read this passage, years ago, I realized this is the kind of fiction I want to write, and this proclamation provides comfort.

There’s a beautiful feeling I sometimes get when I’m reading.  It’s the moment I realize I’m in the hands of a good storyteller.  I’ve had that feeling sometimes reading “great” books, and sometimes reading unpublished student work.  The feeling helps me relax and be along for the journey, and I crave it in everything that I read.  This is not to say that I want what I read to soothe me–on the contrary.  (As the fabulous Joy Williams wrote in her essay “Uncanny the Singing That Comes From Certain Husks,” “Good writing never soothes or comforts.  It is no prescription, neither is it diversionary, although it can and should enchant while it explodes in the reader’s face.”)  But that somewhat unnamable awareness that I’m in good hands as I read is always welcome.  It has to do, maybe, with an amount of confidence (and sincerity) in the writer, because I don’t get that feeling, usually, when I read an overly clever or cynical voice–a narrative stance that, to me, usually feels insincere.  I think the feeling I’m pondering can be called “trust.”  As I notice it, something changes in my body; I relax a little (even if the story is unsettling, exploding in my face) because I understand an agreement the writer is making with me, and I am making with the writer: I trust that she or he will uphold whatever rules and aesthetics the story (or poem) requires, and I trust that the writer’s choices were made in earnest, and with honor behind them.

I want to give that same feeling to my readers.  With my words, I want to craft a net, a web, or a hammock, to catch, or lull them into a place, a moment, a thought.  Myself I want to quiet down to what’s essential, and I want the reader to witness (with me) that silver drop of water on a leaf, or that strange knocking sound that’s just too far off to identify but too close to ignore.


Hugh Laurie (before “House”) and Stephen Fry

Near the end of the last century, I was traversing a difficult break-up.  It seemed the only thing that got me successfully out of my depths was watching “Law & Order” which aired incessantly (several times a day, but still not frequently enough) on the cable channel A&E.  Those gritty formulaic crimes and solutions, riding on the noble backs of wisecracks from well-worn characters like Lennie Briscoe, helped me survive my dark forest.  For an hour at a time, I was distracted enough to gain the relief called numbness–sometimes needed when real things are too hard to face.

Fast forward thirteen years or so, and I need another escape.  But we canceled cable last year, and now it wouldn’t be the classic L&O but instead one of its million children or grandchildren, the watered down spin-offs.  And I’m sure as beautiful as Mariska Hargitay may be, these pale descendents would not offer the comfort of long-ago Jerry Orbach.

So, to reading.  I’m enforcing a brief “vacation” from work-related reading.  First I picked up Animal Farm, which I  haven’t read since high school, and I love Orwell so want to read it again.  But quickly I surmised that wasn’t the right book.  Instead, on the beloved shelf I discovered a small gem called The Girl In Blue by P.G. Wodehouse.  A student had recommended it to me after a chat when we each admired Wodehouse (on whose birthday, incidentally, I was born).  I bought the book without knowing I wouldn’t have time to read it until now.  I’ve adored the Bertie Wooster stories since I read the first after watching their dramatizations with the unequaled (pre-“House”) Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.  But I’d never ventured outside the sunny, funny confines of Wooster and Jeeves.

The Girl In Blue stands alone, that is, it’s the only book he wrote about this set of characters.  But Wodehouse’s hilarious hyperbole rings like a carillon throughout, and will sound to anyone who’s read his other books like the verbal equivalent of tucking into a good silk robe and a mohair chair before the fire, belly full of Anatole’s cooking.  The perfect escape.  A rollicking plot, and many hilarious twists, unfolding in a world blessedly unfamiliar to mine.  But it was impossible to ignore the habit of reading like a writer, and this is good because this time, I found the novel better than escape.  It’s Wodehouse’s prose.

In grandiose trappings, his sentences dance through and around what could easily turn to cliché, but he saves them just before they tumble; his facility with the shades and nuances of English spins what could be a simple fun romp into much finer stuff.  To hell with the high art/low art debate!  To hell with that lofty, sniffing disdain for stories created with the intention of (gasp!) entertainment.  (I’ve never really cared about that fight anyway, but it’s fun to officially cast it off here.)

Could I please just spend a year reading through all of Wodehouse?  Don’t they award grants for stuff like this?  For 2.3 seconds, wild-eyed and laughing, I consider applying for Ph.D. programs, dream of researching a dissertation on the women in Wodehouse, if only so I could immerse myself in the genius of this man’s words.

(Okay, just one more book…)

Now that I have stepped from the safety of Brinkley Court, I will follow Wodehouse anywhere.