10-second review: The author tells how she became a writer--through reading. Beginning with a lending library in her father's drug store, she read books given or loaned to her by all kinds of people and she consumed all of those books.
“A writer is buffeted into being by school hurts—Orwell, Forster, Mann!—but after a while other ambushes begin: sorrows, deaths, disappointments, subtle diseases, delays, guilts, the spite of the private haters of the poetry side of life, the snobs of the glamorous, the bitterness of those for whom resentments are a daily gruel….”
“Your hair is whitening, you are a well of tears, what you meant to do (beauty and justice) you have not done, papa and mama are under the earth, you live in panic and dread, the future shrinks and darkens, stories are only vapor, your inmost craving is for nothing but an old scarred pen, and what, God knows, is that?”
Comment: The pleasant (books) and the dark side of the writing life. RayS.
Best American Essays of the Century. Editors: Oates and Atwan.