Rather than follow in the train of this insatiable monster of modern reading, I would rather forswear my spectacles, play at put, mend pens, kill fleas, stand on one leg, shell peas, or do whatsoever ignoble diversion you shall put me to. Alas!...I die of new books, or the everlasting talk about them...I will go and relieve myself with a page of honest John Bunyan, or Tom Brown. Tom anybody will do, so long as they are not of this whiffling century.
But of course sometimes I do find an author well worth reading who happens to be of this century, or perhaps late century last. Friday I discovered At Large and At Small, a book of essays by Anne Fadiman. She writes about ice cream and coffee and staying up all night to read books, or to write them. She draws on outside articles and essays and stories in each essay, and my vocabulary is expanding at a rate of about 5 words per page ("Panegyric", for instance, as in "[all your reasons for getting up early] are not going to make me jump out of bed at five any more than a panegyric by a white water lily on the splendors of the morning is going to make the evening primrose transplant itself in Linnaeus's 6:A.M. flower bed.") In fact, Fadiman employs a great number of words to argue the case for night owls in an essay on the subject:
"When I write after dark," observes Cyril Connally, "the shades of evening scatter their purple through my prose. Then why not write in the morning? Unfortunately in my case there is never very much of the morning, and it is curious that although I do not despise people who go to bed earlier than I, almost everyone is impatient with me for not getting up."
A very excellent point, in my opinion, and a very enjoyable book. I recommend it.