I’m having a little personal problem.

I’m currently reading Possession, by A.S. Byatt. I originally took up reading it as part of my Gaps list*, and I admit I really struggled through the first 100 pages. But over the last two weeks I have gotten so caught up in the darn thing that I don’t want to do anything but read it. I’m, yeah, possessed.

Eg. This morning, I got up at 6:30 to read for a couple of hours before I had to go into work. At 8, I decided I needed to fill some prescriptions anyway, and would wait until the pharmacy was open to go into work (thereby buying myself more time to read). Then, when I finally got on the train, there were both a local and an express on the platform. I got on the local, because it meant 15 extra minutes of sitting and reading before I had to go tune into other things for nine hours.

Luckily, I have a sympathetic boss, so when I got in at 10–all frazzled from the stresses and excitements of swept-up reading–and shared my story with her, her only comment was that that was the kind of reading experience one hopes to have with manuscripts we read on submissions, and that we must do what we can to get in more submissions that make us desperate to get back on the train.

Obviously, I totally agree. I’m not sure how to make that happen, but I’m plowing away, blind-dialing agents I’ve never met, looking up names of people who’ve represented things I love. Sometimes, one’s furor just needs to be reignited by something like this. (We can’t do this everyday, or we’d keel over and die of exhaustion.)

Anyway, on Possession itself I have tons of thoughts. But I am at work, and have many enervated things to get done. So maybe later. But my boss is right. This is the feeling I read for.


*The Fill-in-the-Gaps Project is something a few people started about a year and a half ago–it’s a means of “getting through” books you wish you’d read but hadn’t gotten around to (hence, filling in gaps). Different people work with different rules, but the most common formula is 100 books, 5 years, and a 75% success rate will be considered “winning” (therefore it’s ok to end up setting aside 1/4 books if they turn out to be just TOO much of a slog). My personal list includes a lot of classics I don’t really want to read but want to be able to say I’ve read–eg Moby Dick, Ulysses, etc–and also a number of long books I’ve heard are really good (Possession was one of these), since I have a personal aversion to long books and need special incentive to start them. But Gaps is always open and rolling, and we have new members sign up all the time, so if it sounds like something you might enjoy, drop our estimable webmistress a line.

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7 Responses to Possessed

  1. Mary says:

    Possession had that effect on me, too. It broadened my idea of what literature could be, what it could do. I can’t think of a higher compliment to its author, given how much I loved literature to begin with.

  2. Christina says:

    Believe it or not, after hearing you talk about Moby Dick I started making myself a list of books to read (mostly books that most people read in hs and uni but that I never did). I think I’ll add this one to the list! 😉

    • Chris, you should TOTALLY join up! I’m making Faye make a list 😉 Uh, I mean, Faye has chosen of her own free will to make a list …

      Oh also, by the way, since I’m totally psychotic, I have a new, Sirens-related reading list, as well. But maybe that’s an offline discussion…

  3. Okay, okay. You’ve convinced me. I’ve put it on order.

  4. I’ve just finished “Posession.” Oh, my. Now I have to go revise my novel manuscript and make it much, much better.

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