As laid out by Didion and the anthology’s contributors, it happens like this: First there’s anticipation, imagining how your life will finally make sense when you arrive. The actual experience of living here is one of finding your place, followed by an intense feeling of ownership. You can stay at that point for years. But eventually, sometimes without knowing it, you begin the slow slide toward a moment of decisiveness. Sometime after that, there’s the actual leaving. And then, the having left. Living in New York turns out to be a process of earning nostalgia — hoarding enough memories to give you the kind of claim on a place that makes it possible to leave it. When you reach your limit and set out elsewhere, memories are your consolation prize. (Bonus points for writing about them.)
Did Sontag need to be more ‘momish’? And if she had been—or if she had more children to drop off with the in-laws or the babysitters—would she have been the same writer? Would we have the legacy of her provocative ideas, in criticism and fiction? The grey-streaked eminence of Sontag aside, how do the rest of us mortals negotiate the balance between selfhood and motherhood? Is stopping at one child the answer, or at least the beginning of one?
My Favorite Time of Year:
When NYT Magazine’s Sam Anderson wraps up his year in marginalia:
On Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84:
“Has any author made more fictional phones ring?”
On Joan Didion’s "The White Album":
“People who accuse Didion of being humorless are insane: she’s hilarious, in a v. strange way.”
My own personal copy of Cesar Aira’s Ghosts is full of the check marks, stars, and occasionally the phrase “Zing!”, most often when he digresses on television.
What are the gems from the margins from of your books?
Source: The New York Times