Literary Resolutions

The six-word memoir is ascribed to Hemingway. He was said to have written the now famous story in six simple words: “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”

Whether or not Hemingway wrote these words, flash fiction and the short novel have never been the same.

 

Inspired by the six-word story, my blogging friend, Eli, over at Coachdaddyblog.com invites a group of friends and fellow bloggers over every month to write a six-word sentence in response to a particular prompt. It’s always so much fun to read what prompt he’s come up with this time and how people have responded.

This time he asked a group of us for a new year’s resolution.

 

I knew exactly what I wanted to write:

Reread Proust and search for time.

My literary new year’s goal this year is to reread Proust’s A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. I read it as a university student but haven’t revisited it since.

photo by reading interrupted.com

all photos by reading interrupted.com

 

It’s still a big part of my life, however. So many books I read make references to it. And, more significantly, it’s my mother’s favorite literary work and she refers to the characters much as she would distant relatives, the stories vaguely merging in my mind with the stories she tells me of our ancestors.

 

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I’m not sure I will reread the whole thing, but certainly the first part, some favorite passages in others, and then I will dip in and out of the story with a disregard for chronology that would normally make me balk.

 

I even have some of the text on audiocassette so I can dust off my old Walkman (which for some unknown reason I have kept after all these years… it seems like it should be in a museum by now) and have the story read to me as I walk down the street in 80s style.

 

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Do you have any literary goals this year?

 

 

(Check out Eli’s wonderful blog and read more six-word New Year resolutions here: Coach Daddy Blog)

 

 

 

117 thoughts on “Literary Resolutions

  1. Proust! Yes, he’s on my list, but not at the top. Ideally, I’d brush off that high school French and search for time without meandering through a translation. But that may not happen this year.

    Good question! I’m going to focus on the writing side of my literary goals this year if I’m ever to crack this redwood open and reach its clear heart. How’s that for a pithy goal?

  2. Gulp!!! I am going to take on a huge challenge! “Remember tonight… for it is the beginning of always.” Dante Alighieri My Italian is rudimentary but nothing ventured nothing gained. 😀😀😀

    • Dante and in Italian no less, bravo! I’ve only read him in English and my Italian is rough around the edges as well so I applaud you taking no the challenge. I look forward to hearing about it as the year progresses!

  3. I’ve got to finish the Harry Potter series. (Now on Book 6, and I think I had mentioned to you before that this is my third attempt to get through them. NO. FULL STOP. I am NOT saying they’re bad books — I see you out there, wizarding world. No, they’re great books, but it’s totally not my genre. Like, not even close. So, please, put the wands down and no curses, pretty please. Who knows? By the end, I may no longer even be a muggle…)

    I’ve got to pick up the Game of Thrones series again. Have read the first three, and loved every one of them — even though they’re not really my genre either — but I usually need about three to six months after reading one before I can pick up the next. They’re so emotionally draining, which is about the highest compliment I could give.

    I’d like to re-read some of my greats. (Books I’ve re-read multiple times.) Probably on the list are The Grapes of Wrath, Watership Down, East of Eden, all of Vince Flynn and Stephen Hunter’s books, some Robert B. Parker to help me with my pacing and dialogue, and some non-fiction research books on terrorism, Islam, and Afghanistan/Pakistan. (My third Nick Woods book will be about Afghanistan and Pakistan, so I need to make sure I’ve totally gotten my arms around this subject.)

    I just finished “Unbroken,” which rocked, but it was so good (both the story and author) that I’m tempted to pick up “Sea Biscuit,” which was written by the same author. I’m not into horse racing, but I’m into talented storytelling, and Laura Hillenbrand can flat write.

    I’ll probably re-read some John McPhee. That man, line-by-line, is one of the best writers out there. I just hate he’s written almost completely about things I don’t care about.

    Well, I’ve droned on enough. Geez. I may just turn this into a blog entry…

    P.S. Love the walkman, and and hate that you’re not only reading a hard book, but also apparently reading it French. Dang, I don’t even know why you “hang out” with me…

    • Just saw the comment above, which wasn’t there when I started. So… Apparently the book is in Italian… I saw the “je” and assumed French. Way to go Stan… As if you didn’t already look like a dumb knuckledragger…

      • You were right the first time, Proust is in French (you’re smarter than you think, Stan!). I’m French so it’s not a big stretch for me to read the book in the original language so please don’t give me bonus points for that, haha!

        I read Unbroken too and loved it as well. Such a great story and told so well. I didn’t know the author had also written Sea Biscuit (I’ve heard of the film by the same name). Although the subject of horse racing normally doesn’t tempt me, I think I want to read it too because the author writes so well. Thanks for the heads up!

        • Oh, I didn’t know you were French! Must be partly why I like you so well! : )

          And, yeah, she says in the afterword that the Seabiscuit story was the biggest story she’d been drawn to UNTIL the Unbroken story. I had always heard the Seabiscuit story was super inspiring, so I’ll probably read it. Especially given Lauren’s writing skills. : )

  4. Your literary goal is much more sophisticated than mine. Right now I’m just hoping to get through John Grisham’s latest book before it’s due back at the library. Not the finest of literature, I know, but I do pepper literary fiction into my usual reading of thrillers, so I feel it’s okay. 😉

    So funny that you still have a cassette player!

  5. I can’t count the number of times I’ve thrown the metaphoric ‘madeleines’ into conversation 😉 Lots of literary goals: finish writing my (travel) memoir – about walking the Camino de Santiago last year, in some unusual ways; checking off a few more books off my every-growing list of simply-MUST-reads; and finding a writing circle/group that will set me off in new directions. Happy new year!

    • “metaphoric madeleines” a lovely phrase! I’m so glad you’re writing a memoir about your trip to Camino de Santiago. I know how special that trip was to you and I look forward to eventually reading your published work. Happy New Year to you as well!

  6. Oh my goodness I have not seen a Walkman in years. Good luck with that goal!

    My biggest reading resolution is to read 60 books. I’ve been increasing that number by 10 for the last three years and I’m pleased to say that I’ve been sticking with it! 🙂

    • 60 books, that’s great! I’m not surprised you have been able to increase your book amount each year – you love books as much as you love chocolate and we both know, that’s a lot!!

  7. Very impressive Letizia, nothing quite so impressive for me, just to begin to make inroads into all those books that were so so easy to download onto my Kindle and now sit in a no-man’s land of waiting to be read…

    • You make a good point, e-books are so quick to download and then collect unread out of sight (at least for me as I tend to read traditional books). I have to consciously remind myself to see what books are on my iPad when I’m looking for my next book to read.

  8. I’ve never read (and know I never will) Proust. I’m thinking it’s a long book! I love that your mother quotes from it the way she does 🙂

    As for me, my goals are always ongoing, regardless of the time of year. I’m always hoping I’ll soon be spending my days in the way I prefer—off the computer and working toward my novels, whether researching, outlining, whatever 🙂

  9. I have never read that book. As for searching for time, I think if you find time that you must ask it for an extra hour or two 🙂 I read and write and return again to read in a cycle that keeps me happy. Also what makes me happy is seeing you in blog-land 🙂

    • I like that, finding time and then asking it for an hour or two – what a charming idea.

      Happy New Year, Christy – looking forward to connecting with you throughout the year as we always do!

  10. My goal for the year in six words – Read less rubbish, read more Dickens. Of course, like most of my resolutions, this one won’t make it past tomorrow… 😉

    Happy New Year, Letizia!

    • That’s a great resolution (and in 6 words, great!). Some ‘rubbish’ is always necessary, I find – for relaxation and sometimes to put the great works in perspective 😉

      Happy New Year to you as well!

      • 😆 Ooh I love that! The next time my snooty brother says ‘Why on earth are you reading that rubbish?’ I shall reply haughtily ‘I am putting the great works of literature in perspective!’ That’ll shut him up… 😉

  11. I’ll have to read that one now. Does he tell you how to find that lost time? 🙂 I’ve been getting back into appreciating short stories lately. It’s amazing how much feeling can be packed into those and even in six-word sentences. My goal is just to read and write as much as possible – and I’ll be right there searching for that elusive time along with you.

    • I have such admiration for a good short story as well. It’s a beautiful art form and hard to write well. I like Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest short stories, love Cortazar’s short stories, oh there are so many great short stories out there, aren’t there?

      • Yes! I haven’t read the ones you mentioned – thanks for those recommendations! I usually read Glimmertrain or Ploughshares or the “best” anthologies. For now, I’m reading one of those best short stories anthologies for the last century so that’ll take a while. 🙂

  12. Good that you mentioned you were French – or I would feel very depressed right now. A friend of mine has read Proust in French (we are German) and now she is reading something in Spanish. Makes me feel very, very unworthy … At least she is not reading in Italian, yet … I read frequently in English, but French is very hard work for me. Any other language I am left to guessing … How come that French, the once ubiquitous language in Europe, has so dropped in popularity?
    Reading goals for 2014: Read more. 60 books a year? That would be 5 a month – I do not think I will ever make it to that number.

    • 60 books is a great goal. And being able to read in German and in English is wonderful – it allows you to read so many books in their original language (maybe you can even read some Dutch? I read a book by a Dutch author recently called The Dinner – I had to read it in English).

      • Only tried to read a Dutch paper, once – about 30 % I could extract from that one article I tried – I do not think I could do a Dutch or a Swedish book justice (and yes, Swedish is very much related to German, too!). I feel slightly ashamed to admit, I never learned Dutch – after all, they are a neighbouring country. But then how many languages would I have to learn, just to grasp the languages of our neighbours? And English would not even count for one: Danish, Polish, Czech, French, Dutch … Thankfully Luxembourg, Austria and Swiss all have some german like idiom. Belgium? Well, French again – or Dutch ..
        And which of those have I learned? A little bit of French – useless for me, as all I can order is “une tasse de café sans beurre, svp” – and I do not drink coffee.

        • “Un cafe sans sucre” I think you mean 🙂 (beurre means ‘butter’) I know what you mean, as Europeans we all speak a couple of languages but we cannot speak all the languages of our neighbors. I wish I could speak German and I wish I could read in Spanish better than I do. Oh well, we do what we can!

          • No, no I meant butter – that makes it double useless – nobody, not even a coffeedrinkers would order coffee WITH BUTTER – so to be able to order it without would not make much sense, would it? That I do not drink coffee is just the second reason .. you see, not even my german humour attempt makes it into your language …

  13. I have no reading ambitions/goals. I will simply be grateful if I get to read anything at all. Your description of your mother’s knowledge of the characters reminds me of my mother-in-law who told stories from the Bible as though they were events that happened just last week, in the neighbourhood. 🙂 I do hope you find time for Proust. 😉

    • I love that your mother-in-law recounted the stories of the Bible as if they happened recently and in the neighborhood. That’s so sweet. Yes, my mother will speak of the characters and places in Proust’s text with such familiarity that I have to be careful to distinguish what is real and what isn’t. I love it though.

  14. I love Your Walkman. I had also the yellow one. At those days I listened it in my car and I remember when I bought the audiocassette of The Count of Monte Cristo in Spanish and listened it when driving. This year I’ll have nothing special in my mind, but I continue reading my collection of sci-fi 1500 books “Livres Anticipation” published by Fleuve Noire. My wish is if I could buy more books in French from the world’s biggest sci-fi series Perry Rhodan. In Germany they have publish 2786 in this series which started already on September the 8th, 1961. Last year I bought 16 Perry Rhodan in French from Paris. I guess that there are many people in our world who have never about Perry Rhodan.

    Bonne Année!

    • I had never heard of Perry Rhodan so I’m happy to be introduced to his books. It’s great when you discover a series and there are so many books to catch up on.

      I remember the yellow Walkman! And how great to listen to The Count of Monte Cristo on it. Did you know that the men and women who rolled cigars had someone read to them as they worked and they loved listening to The Count of Monte Cristo so much that this is why those cigars are named Montecristo?

  15. Did you ever think your Walkman would steal the show today? (I want to know what happens when you hit Mega Bass when listening to a book.) I think my anchor book would be a tie between Sun Also Rises and Walden – both impacted my life when I read them first, and each time again that I open their cover.

    Love this post, and thank you for the kind words and link!

  16. I once saw a Proust boxset of books but couldn’t affors the £59.95 asking price at the time to my eternal regret, Iwould love to read some Proust and he is on my list and so to is a walkman after seeing the photo, although I would like an action shot of you walking sporting it whilst all the kids look on jealously.

    My own literary ambitions this year are just to enjoy reading and read more than I have been doing. I do want to diversify more and also read more authors that have last names from the latter part of the alphabet, just to get my N-Z Authors page balanced up with the A-M.

    • I like the “repeat” part!

      I just looked up Deep Dark Down and it looks good – will add it to my list of books to read.

      Wishing you a wonderful year, Lynne.

  17. “Reread Proust and search for time!”… I am with you… I stopped while reading “The Prisoner”… so I should have better read the last books before re-read the previous ones, right? 😛
    All the very best to you, dear Letizia. Aquileana 😀

  18. I made some ambitious goals last year, so I’m aiming for smaller this year–read a few classics I haven’t gotten to yet, re-read some books on my shelves that it’s been awhile since I opened them last, and work my way though my unread new books.

  19. Going for 50 books this year and compiling my Shakespeare file. I want to write an insider look at the Bard from a character who shared the time period. Ambitious or what?

  20. I’m inspired and have just downloaded Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’. Not sure I’ve got the resolve for Proust, even in translation. Generally I think I need to spend a little time with the classics as an antidote to new indies – there’s the odd pearl but not many.

  21. I love that the personnages in Proust are a bit like members of family….. Marcel, Swan, Mme de Guermantes et Francoise….sans oublier la Grand-Mere…. Enjoy rereading it!!!! He is the best!

  22. Check out those cassettes! And in (your native) French! I’ve yet to catch up with the BBC iPlayer to hear the much hyped production of War and Peace. If I can’t download it to my iPod then I have to sit here in this cold room at my desk for all those hours. Maybe that’s the ideal conditions though!

    As for goals, they’re too workplacey for my free time. How about ‘intentions’? More Le Carre for me. Like the grit. And Ballard. Conscious though that my somewhat grim interests favour male authors. I have a few books by Duras to look forward to though. These follow on from my huge enjoyment of Practicalities.

    • Sitting in a cold room sounds like the ideal conditions for listening to War and Peace indeed! I might look into that myself.

      I haven’t read Le Carre in a long time and have never read Ballard. You make me want to touch base with both.

  23. Pingback: Trust the Magic of Beginnings | On The Road Book Club

  24. HI, Letizia!

    I reread books all the time. I have lost count of the number of times I have read Wuthering Heights! It is the book that I always travel with. Its not the only one though. I love rereading. It is an excercise in itself, I guess.

    Literary goals? Heck, yeah!

    I’m reading a lot of Indian writers who wrote in, or about, the pre-mobile pre-internet age. I am trying to get their language and psychology right. It’s like a research I’m doing to help me write the book that I am writing!

    Hope you had an amazing 2014!

    • I’ve only read Wuthering Heights once and now you make me want to read it again! I love that you travel with it. Can you recommend one or two contemporary Indian writers? I only know older Indian literature or famous contemporary authors like Jhumpa Lahiri who also write about the American experience.

      • Old or not, writing about diaspora or not, you should read Amitav Ghosh!!!

        He’s is my favourite writer. True, he falls under the same genre that Jhumpa Lahiri comes under, but he’s a wizard with words. He paints a canvas so large and with such details that you’re mesmerised with his magic.

        Apart from him you can try Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil. Or, Em and the Big Hoom by Jerry Pinto. Kiran Nagarkar is also an amazing writer. His Ravan and Eddie will bring the feel of India’s middle class very clearly.

        There are many pulp writers. But something tells me you’ll prefer the literary types.

        Letizia, I’ll feel so awesome if you actually end up reading one of these. Haha. Let me know if you want to know more!!!

  25. Well. I will try not to have sour grapes about your polygotiness 🙂 I have never read Proust…one of these days. I don’t plan books I will read because I never know what will l have available. But my projected book count for 2015 is 60. I’ve also resolved to write poetry everyday, I won’t be sharing those. I would also like to get this memoir I’ve been sitting on for a couple years into light…
    I like the image of you, all retro chic, with your Walkman, on a literary jam in French 🙂

  26. I have two:
    1. I am keeping a log of the books I read this year. Too often lately, I start a book only to realize that I’ve already read. (Aging…sigh)
    2. I’m an avid Bookcrosser and love to release books in the wild. This year I’m participating in the 52 Towns in 52 Weeks release challenge. Luckily, I have quite a bit of travel planned, so this shouldn’t be hard. And it will help clear off the shelves. 🙂

  27. You have revealed how ‘young’ you are by sharing the picture of your Walkman 🙂 I remembered when I was a kid, my parents bought me classic-tales on audio cassettes. I never got tired played and listened to them over and over again.

    • Dang keyboard! I wasn’t done typing yet. forgive my language 🙂 My literary goal is having more time to read more books. Though, I am not ashamed to confess that my kinda books are way less sophisticated than yours. May be even less sophisticated then the 5th graders 🙂

  28. Wow, Proust takes me back to high school. Come to think of it, so does a Walkman! 😉 I have to read lighter books, because my days are so heavy and full and by the time I can read, I don’t want to think! Seriously, though, if I could pick a literary book to really dig into, Proust would be on the list.

  29. Have you heard about Six Word Memoirs? http://www.sixwordmemoirs.com They have a whole site dedicated to them.

    I believe it’s I heard it’s inspired by Hemingway’s original one. I’m impressed by your resolution! Mine is just to read…more. I have been slacking off on the reading front every since I had children, so I’m going to try to take back my literary time.

    • Thanks for the link, Dana; looking forward to checking it out!

      Reading more is a great resolution in itself. We know we’ll have a good year when we make time for reading, right?

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

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