James Hynes discovers Anna Karenina through bifocals

The great James Hynes reads Anna Karenina for the first time with his “geriatric new glasses”:

this particular new experience, like everything else that’s new in midlife, has turned out to be both predictably melancholy and unexpectedly rewarding. Melancholy, because that pure joy of discovering a great novel on your own (the way I discovered “Lord Jim” when I was 10 years old) is greatly diluted by the fact that I’m denied the simple narrative pleasure of not knowing how the story turns out. And there’s another reason: Just as you’ll never fall in love again the way you did the first time, you’ll never read a great novel at 49 in the wholehearted way you would have read it at 20, if only because so much life, and so many books, have happened in the meantime.

Via Michael Schaub, who last year did a bang-up interview with Hynes that made me want to move to Austin and become his — Hynes’, not Schaub’s (although if Schaub wants into my fantasy, he’s more than welcome) — fishing buddy. (I should acknowledge the dearth of evidence that Hynes has any interest in fishing whatsoever).

Background reading:

  • Cubicle Gothic” (Hynes on his creeping fear, while working for $8/hour as a Texas temp, that he’d wind up walled up in his cube like a Poe character)


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