One slightly disturbing but weirdly pleasant side-effect of aging: novels read 40 years ago do not violate my Eternal Unchangeable Rule that I cannot reread two novels in a row, there must be a first read, to completion, quit as many as I must but one first read before another reread, this amendment to the Eternal Unchangable Rule the last change to the Eternal Unchangable Rule until the next. I can continue with the reread if I quit a first read ONLY if a new first read started within two daylights of quitting the first read, but more importantly, a novel I last read in 1981 or earlier can now be considered a first read rather than a reread though it is in fact a reread
Here's the next last new amendment until the next: a first read novel can be read simultaneously with a reread novel if I'm also reading for the first time a massive collection of short stories, some of which I've read, the majority not, and I will read one chapter/section of each first read novel every day as well as one of the short stories everyday as well as a chapter/section of any reread in progress. I do need read the novels front to back, I cannot spot read the novels, but I may choose to read the short stories in front to back or can move about at will but must in that case identify which stories have been read or reread, depending. At the moment I am reading the short stories in the order of the book, it's Library of America's gorgeous object, Barthelme's collected short stories, I don't want to ink and/or dogear the book. I can be reading/rereading more than one novel as long as I'm currently first reading a novel. If the abandoned reread is a second or third or fourth simultaneous reread I do not need replace it with a new reread but I must always have - wait, the last new amendment until the next: I do NOT have to always have a reread in progress
My current first read (as opposed to the current three rereads I'm reclassifying as first reads), Henry James' *Golden Bowl,* this years attempt to figure out why my late dead friend and thesis mentor Dennis read and reread every James and told me repeatedly if I ever get it I'll owe him pints. I believe the two daylight clause will be activated by mid-afternoon today. I'm first reading John Gray's *Feline Philosophy,* but not every day though I will finish. Since I rarely read non-fiction I have no rules for how I read non-fiction.When I was in the Montgomery County Public Library's used bookstore on Boiling Brook looking for a James (not necessarily *Golden Bowl,* the fucker wrote 436 of them, each with a preface telling you before you read what genius you're about to encounter) I found a mass-market *The Sot-Weed Factor* by John Barth and a mass market *Little Big Man* by Thomas Berger and a trade paperback of Norman Rush's *Mating,* $5.50 spent on all three as rereads (though now considered first reads, all read before 1982), I remember enough of my at least two rereads of Barth when I'll quit this time if I do but I haven't before and do you remember when *Mating* came out in 1981 what a boom it had back when books in my tiny world boomed? I remember loving it, that's it, I remember hating the sequel "Mortals," and does ANYONE remember Thomas Berger in 2021? I will be editing this monologue until I stop.
Odds I finish one? two? three? four? Over/under one and a half. I saw other James I did not buy but might someday in the Montgomery County Public Library bookstore where I was just short of or just over the mean average customer age, including a James novel with the name Roderick in the title, I can fail that for a dollar next summer. *Little Big Man* has a chance, I find it funny to read a 1964 novel interrogating the genocide of indigenous Americans and the whitewashing of American history, *Mating* has a chance, I find it funny to read characters in a 1981 novel mouthing what you'd expect a novel set in Botswana to explore, how nothing's changed except the shittiness everyone agrees exists exists forty years in the future and is, as predicted, shittier. Why did I stop playing my Bjork CDs? I'm betting I finish none of novels now in my backpack. You're right, you haven't ever read about my reading poetry rules.
POEM FOR MY NEIGHBOR WHOSE GOOD INTENTIONS ARE WOLF PELT
Jacqueline Allen Trimble