How much can two pack rats store in one 20-year period? That's what I have to deal with this week so that L. and I can finally paint the bedroom and its closet and put down hardwood floors before Christmas. So what am I doing? I'm reading Tree of Smoke, a book that makes me want to read organically, and by that I mean, follow the literary trail laid down by its characters--Silas Marner, Pudd'nhead Wilson, The Old Curiosity Shop, John Calvin, the Book of Joel. Those are just the ones that have been mentioned so far that I haven't already read (I'm midway through 1966). And the two mentioned in the exchange below between a Seventh Day Adventist missionary and a C.I.A agent:
"Have you read a book called The Ugly American?"
He said, "Why would I want to read a book like that?"
She stared at him.
"Aah, okay, I've read The Ugly American," he said. "I think it's nonsense. Self-flagellation is getting to be the vogue. I don't buy it."
"And The Quiet American?"
"I've read The Quiet American, too."--And that one, she noticed, he didn't label nonsense.