Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Open your notebooks

The Guardian book club this month discusses Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook.

The first column about the novel outlines its structure, the multiple narratives told in separate notebooks.

She finally writes the golden notebook, where she is reconciled to her different stories of herself. "It's been necessary to split myself up, but from now on I shall be using one only."

(This novel affected me deeply, yet I've been unable to write about it. I recognize in myself multiple paths, tangled. They initially seem to veer off in opposite directions, but I can't follow all of them to their logical conclusion, so they come to overlay each other and fold back in. Over the years, I've lost the ability to compartmentalize — I no longer switch hats with ease, but wear them all at the same time. In some ways I think of this blog as my golden notebook, the integration of my fragmentary self.)

John Mullan is discussing The Golden Notebook with Doris Lessing today — how badly do I wish I could be there! — and will be podcast.

Everyone is invited to discuss the novel online. Maybe I'll finally piece together some of my thoughts.


Stefanie said...

I have too get around to reading this book.

callie said...

I believe I've mentioned before that The Golden Notebook had a great impact on me...huge. Yet I read it so long ago (and the impression upon me was so great), I, like you, have never been able to properly organize my thoughts on it. I couldn't even sum it up in a sentence or two.

Maybe I need to re-read it? Ugh. As I look at the mile-high pile of TBR books stacked on my desk and all over my office floor, I think the answer is no. But I'm so curious to go back and re-read it.

Part of my is also worried that a re-read might somehow render it less impressive in my mind. Sort of like going to visit your favorite places from childhood as an adult and thinking, "This? This was that place I thought was so grand? But it's so tiny. So small. So uninspired." Do I dare?

Bybee said...

When I was in college, someone told me to read The Golden Notebook. Unfortunately, it wasn't the right time of life for me. Now would be better. I didn't get anything out of it, and I knew I wasn't at the time. Maybe I'll get back to it within the next year or two.

Isabella said...

I read it just a year and a half ago — it's still sitting by my desk for me to blog about — so it's relatively fresh in my mind.

I don't think I would've gotten anything out of it had I read it in college, or in my 20s.

Lessing would agree that there's a time and a place for every book. If anyone's curious, do read over her preface as a start, on which I did make a few comments.