The other night I was getting ready for bed and my husband said he was going to stay up late to finish reading Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard, he explained, was his thinker for 2010 and he was hustling to wrap him up so he could get on with a new thinker for 2011 (thinker still tbd). It got me thinking that I should choose a writer and make him – or her – my writer of the year. After all, I have a huge stack of books that I’ve put in my “read next” pile but what I read is actually quite random. Casual observation of my “read next” pile makes it appear that the book I’m reading next is “Proust, Portrait of a Genius” by Andre Maurois, when really I am going to the Berkeley Public Library and reading “Horns” by Joe Hill. If I had a writer for 2011, it might not do anything for my “read next” pile, but it might give my wayward reading habits a little shape, and presumably help me remember what all I’ve read for the last year.
It just so happened that a friend had recently given me “The Norton Shakespeare (Based on the Oxford Edition).” Like all Nortons, it is about ten pounds of onionskin, dwarfed only by the inestimable weight of the scholarly fantasies it inspires. So, with a drum roll please, I am announcing that Shakespeare is the lucky writer I have named as My Writer for 2011.
Even if I read only “major” plays I am unlikely to get through all this in a year, but I’m going to give it a try nevertheless. Wouldn’t it be something by the end of 2011 to have memorized some lines and be able to sprinkle my conversation with sage quotes from The Bard? (Take me out for drinks in 2012 and see what you think.) My idea is that I’ll read a little each day – at lunch time, when I’m usually scrapping around the Bay Area section of the San Francisco Chronicle and reading the crime report. If I supplement this program with motivational viewings of “The History Boys” I should have at least a few plays read or re-read by the end of the year. Sincere excitement!