Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cheap therapy.

I used to have a therapist, who I liked a lot, and who I visited, on and off, for many years. I cried, I argued, I bargained, I blah blah blah. It was therapy. I learned a lot and I have more tools now than before I went to therapy. Now that I've said that, I don't plan to say another word--if that!--about therapy.

Except that occasionally I buy a copy of O, the Oprah magazine. Don't bother to tell me what's wrong with that. I already know. But sometimes it just kind of cheers me up, gives me a lift, and let me tell you, at this point, I much prefer it to going week after week to an excellent, compassionate, insightful, and skillful professional. For one thing, it only costs me about $4.

Now, as for what I have gleaned in terms of life-improving, soul-healing material with this month's issue: Sarah Vowell's Bookshelf (the "Bookshelf," for those of you whose intake of periodicals includes only The Believer and professional journals, and who would not stoop to mass-market uplift, is a regular feature in O, in which a famous person talks about five or so books that have been important to him or her).

I love Sarah Vowell and her weird little voice. I love her occasional columns in the New York Times. I love running into her on This American Life and wherever else I might run into her. I might, sometime, read Assassination Vacation. Or not. In O this month, she names five books that made a difference to her: Great Lodges of the National Parks, by Christine Barnes; Lincoln at Gettysburg, by Garry Wills; Great Plains, by Ian Frazier; Chronicles, Volume One, by Bob Dylan; and Out of Sheer Rage, by Geoff Dyer. Of this last, she says:
This is a book about not being able to write a book about D. H. Lawrence. Dyer is frustrated and therefore hilarious. He procrastinates. He can't concentrate. He's indecisive about everything from where to live to what to pack. And he lays bare the embarrassing secret of authors. Namely, the amount of stupidity and paralysis and adolescent putting things off that goes into writing about even the most high-minded subjects. As a person who gets paid to pontificate about my nation's history and ideals (but only after walking back and forth to the crackers in my pajamas and/or watching reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on cable), I find this book terribly funny and painfully true.
Yeah. I get that. I will read this book, absolutely, and after I have contemplated my own weird little dances of avoidance for the writing I am supposed to do, and I want to do, then I will calculate my unanticipated, ancillary sabbatical expenses, such as the overages for crackers and other salty snacks. Oh my Lord.


  1. I have to get that book. And also some crackers.

  2. I like this. What do you do mainly to procrastinate? I mean, besides eating the crackers? Sometimes I plan elaborate dinners. Sometimes, I blog...

  3. The Dyer book is great. So is the Frazier. I'll have to check out those other ones. I like Vowell, and I fully endorse the reading of O magazine.

  4. You should definitely read Assassination Vacation. I think it's her best.

  5. Just what I need -

    I am never never going to make such a stupid vow as to only read once a quarter. (I thought reading was my avoidance dance - but I see now their name is Legion.) My list of upcoming must-reads for my next reading month allows me at this point about 2 & a half days per book . . . Please please do not publish your book of poems in 2009 unless you can guarantee July or October!

  6. Read the Dyer book many years ago, thanks to Middlebrow. It succeeds in spite of its meta-ness. Plus it has a title I can really get behind.



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