So Saturday we're leaving town for six weeks – to be divided roughly between the NYC area & Europe. Usually I load up with books before the summer "vacation," anticipating a big writing project that'll be ploughed thru. This time I've determined to pack lightly. Two small, mass-market paperback-sized Ruskin anthologies (one of Essays and Selections from the 1930s, the other a recent reprint of the Phaidon Lamp of Beauty: Writings on Art printed on bible paper – really a lovely little thing), and an old paperback selection of Wyndham Lewis. Why WL? I guess he's someone I've meant to tackle seriously for a long time; I've read Tarr, and The Apes of God, and another anthology, but hope this one will tilt me into the beginning of a seriously read-thru.
The difference between this journey and others, I guess, is that I've finally gotten acclimated to reading on-screen. I have the bulk of the Ruskin Library Edition both on my laptop & on my iPad; a King James Bible on the iPad and the phone, in case I get all holy; and stacks and stacks of articles on PDF in case I get the hankering to do some actual academic reading. I have a samizdat PDF of LZ's "A", which I think I might re-read, just for auld lang syne, over the summer. Even the girls are used to the notion that if they want to read something that's fat & will take up lots of suitcase space, it's going to end up on the Kindle.
There's one fat novel I'm regretting not carrying. It's not Michael Moorcock's The Dreamthief's Daughter (2001, just reissued by Gollanz as Daughter of Dreams), which I just finished re-reading. It's John Crowley's incredible Little, Big – perhaps the most beautiful and strange piece of fiction I've picked up in years. I understand Harold Bloom is nuts about Crowley, but I'm willing to overlook that: the guy's a genius. But it's a fat, ungainly volume, and I think I'll end up taking a 6-week pause at the end of the next chapter, only to savor the second half even more when I get back to it.