Tonight I finished reading Geoffrey O'Brien's The Browser's Ecstasy: A Meditation on Reading. It's a slim collection of interconnected short essays that, together, form of a loosely scripted monologue exploring the relationship between reader and book. It's high brow for sure and often a bit dreamy in its sentiment but the writing is always beautiful and frequently thought provoking. I devoured the little thing.
In short, browsing: the path that has no ends and no beginnings, where all is middle.
It is such a luxuriance, a voluptuousness of sustained duration that allows time to come into its own and somehow step outside itself. To amble through a sentence, to feel out its particular pockets and eddies, to allow its implicit rhythm to pervade all surrounding space. Isn't this as much as we're granted, this corner of nature at long last (as it was in the beginning) truly ours, the language we were born in and that fits us like a body? I get lost in the garden and forget what time it is, or what time is.
You should be able to get a copy on the cheap. For some reason, I'm guessing this must be a widely chosen title in college English classes, there is a huge supply of used copies around the web. Don't pay more than two or three bucks. I got my wonderful little hardcopy for under $1 on Amazon.
Not every one liked it as much as me. Here's a negative Salon.com review. I disagree with the critic on nearly every point. I do agree that Geoff could have pulled his overarching arguments together a little tighter but I don't think the lack of a tight little bow on top ruins his gift.
Oddly enough, Geoffrey has the lead article this week over at The NY Review of Books. It's a think piece on Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911. It's a thoughtful and, I think, even handed evaluation of what makes the film tick and, unlike most media coverage, it doesn't obsess over details or playing gotcha. In other words, it's real analysis.