5. The journal entry
A recent essay in the NYT reminded me of a review I’d written back in 2005, on My Name Is Red. The novel had mesmerized me, and I was in a trance for weeks after finishing it. Out of this state came the review that mimicked the novel’s structure: written from the viewpoint of a character who reviews the novel, it tried to show what the book read like, while telling you about it.
I was clearly trying to imitate Pamuk, but I was also trying to experiment. And this sort of experiment was easier on such a book, with its explicit stylistic devices and idiosyncratic structure, than on something from say, Naipaul, where the style is almost invisible and the prose doesn’t stick to your skin.
Reading the review again, after a gap of many years, brought back memories of those weeks filled with wonder and delight. I like the piece not for its literary merit – such a one-sided outpouring can hardly claim to be a ‘review’ – but because it captures that state of mind full of love – in this case, almost devotion – for a work of art. I cannot remember feeling so attached to something since then – is this my inability to engage deeply with longer works of literature, or is it a reflection of the kind of books I’ve read since?