Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Robert Kloss, On Reading

“I’ve never really thought about why I read or what it means to me. I’ve never had the need to justify the action, even when my father or my teachers made me feel like it was a less than healthy activity — I just sneaked around to do it. Honestly, I think I just fell into the habit when I was very young and I always kept at it. But, then again, I was always good at it and it was one of the few things I was good at so for whatever reason it was a natural activity. It was also one of the few things I liked to do so I did it whenever I could. At the moment I started to read I also started to write and I think the two have always been bound up in each other. Writing was the other thing I liked to do that I was also good at. Had I been able to draw or had I been able to sing or had I been more athletic things may have worked out differently. Slowly I think the writing cannibalized the reading, so now most or all of my reading happens so that I can write — it’s research or its inspiration, searching for power. I read how Melville wrote Moby-Dick while reading Shakespeare and Greek tragedy and Sterne and Rabelais and how those geniuses somehow unlocked his own genius. I have to admit I have always tried to do the same thing, with not quite as startling results. So I suppose if I have any requirement of the books I read, now, its that they should startle me. I don’t read for a good yarn or to gain some insight into why people do what they do or some other abstract insight: I suppose I read to be startled and amazed by something brilliant and awesome, like an old time prophet caught in the glow and hum of the burning bush.”

{Robert Kloss is the author of How the Days of Love & Diphtheria (Mud Luscious Press/Nephew) and The Alligators of Abraham (Mud Luscious Press, 2012). He is found online at rkbirdsofprey.blogspot.com.}

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