Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Story of Me, pt. 1

by J.S. Peyton
pgs. 1-3

It's discouraging to discover that what I am doing, or rather in this case, what I have only just started trying to do is already being done by someone else. Not only that, but that someone else is doing it much better than I could ever do it. I have no illusions that my little book blog is in no way one of a kind. After all, there is no shortage of opinions in the world and a quick navigation to will reveal that there are a plethora of people only-too eager to share their opinion on books with the world. And then there are the professional critics who make a living, however wanting, offering their studied criticism up for consumption in stately publications such as The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.

But I had hoped that, even if certain elements of my blog couldn't be original, at least my unique combination of such elements would be. Sigh, no such luck. Only yesterday, as I'm browsing in Olsson's, a D.C.-based indie bookstore, I come across Housekeeping vs. The Dirt: Fourteen Months of Massively Witty Adventures in Reading by Nick Hornby. Shit. But I don't really like Nick Hornby. His book How to Be Good was one of the few books I never bothered to finish and I gladly gave it away to a used bookstore, which is something I never do. This book, however, is a collection of essays and every writer deserves a second chance, I figure. So I open it up and what do I see? He has, at the beginning of every section, a list of books he bought and of books he read for every month of 2005.

Double shit. It is at this point that I realize that I am essentially holding my blog, in print, written by an author who, as the cover his book so kindly tells me, was the National Book Critics Circle finalist for criticism. Great. Just great. Disgusted, I went to buy it and then realized that I didn't have any money. Even more disgusted (I get testy when I can't afford to buy books), I returned to my apartment in a piss-poor mood, talked dispassionately on the phone for a while, then rouded out the night by burying my nose in a book until finally, I dozed off.

Today, I have just returned from Kramerbooks, another fabulous indie bookstore, where I bought, unethusiastically, Hornby's book, in addition to Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan (another obsessive reader), and Empires of the World: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler. I bought the first two, because even as it depresses me by reminding me of how unoriginal and inexperienced I really am, maybe, please God, I'll learn a thing or two. Perhaps by reading the masters, I'll learn how to write like one.

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