Hi there, I miss you already. I read 200 books this year and I learned nothing except the way a sentence should sound in your head when you’re reading it over and again, trying to make it last longer. My friend used to say I should talk less about how much I read—seems like bragging. Well fuck you too I replied in my mind. I didn’t explain that I was desperate to find people who read the same books, liked the same books—I was so sure there was nothing else I needed. Turns out I was wrong about that.
I’m someone who needs continuous escalation just to feel like I’m standing still, which makes the holidays hard because absolutely nothing happens. I like having something to do. Right now I’m in a ski lodge with very thin walls with my head buried under an ugly blanket. I’ve been working out too much and everything hurts. Outside there’s snow falling though I can’t hear it or see it. Utah in every season is beautiful, my friend told me. He bought a plot of land in Heber City recently. He says backcountry skiing is a good way to die in an avalanche.
I love living in Utah. Being here has been the best thing about 2020. Other than reading and writing and what the fuck else? I barely cut my hair and now it’s too long and gets everywhere. S and I went to Portland to visit some friends and something went wrong and we haven’t talked to them since. I rewatched the entirety of Sex and the City and read Candace Bushnell’s columns.
S says to me, you’ve been buying a lot of clothes lately. Is it because you’re almost done the book and you need something to distract you? I guess that’s what they’re for, the oversized plaid jacket and the Rick Owens sneakers and the fleece-lined sweatpants: clothes I can sprawl on a couch in, clothes to take my mind off everything I should be doing. When I’m not writing I feel like I’m wasting time. I have friends who claim drinking or smoking or taking stimulants helps them work and none of it really helps me. Writing is writing is writing feels bad until it feels good. When I can’t write I read. When I can’t read I do the crossword. My other friend asked me, Do you ever worry that you’re not interesting? I do the crossword religiously every evening: I already know I’m boring.
A few definitions:
Pick one: 1) Having enough money and time and focus to buy all the hardcover books you want and read them 2) Lying in bed beside someone you love.
Some good editing advice I read: imagine that your smartest ex, the one that you resent the most, is the person who’s criticizing your writing.
A liar: someone who tells you they love your writing but doesn’t subscribe to your Substack.
My favorite books this year:
Problems by Jade Sharma
Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen
Women by Chloe Caldwell
How to Save Your Life by Erica Jong
Luster by Raven Leilani
Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami
Mating by Norman Rush
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds
Summer Snow by Robert Hass
Stray by Stephanie Danler
Abandon Me by Melissa Febos
Uncanny Valley by Anna Weiner
Wild Game by Adrienna Brodeur
The Undying by Anne Boyer
Psychopolitics by Byung Chul-Han
The Power Notebooks by Katie Roiphe
Gravity and Grace by Simone Weil
Post-Capitalist Desire by Mark Fisher
Heroines by Kate Zambreno
There’s something about the end of December that always makes me feel unmoored. Honestly I can’t believe you bother to read these posts. It means a lot that you do.
I’ll do better next year.