Lost in Smoke

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I rarely re-read books, because I feel like there is no time for such things. I do have friends who re-read books often. One friend reads Jane Eyre every year or so. I feel like when it comes to reading we are already swimming against the tide, how could we possibly spend time re-reading a book when there are thousands of books still waiting to be read. I sometimes feel frantic about reading. I know I should really just give in and relax. Enjoy the process more. Of all people I should re-read books, because I tend to forget details or miss big things. For example I have probably read Lord of the Flies a couple of times, but I was just reading a description of the book and it said it takes place after an atomic war. I have no memory of that at all.

treesmoke.gif I’m still trying to get through Tree of Smoke, which was just nominated for the National Book Award. I’m about halfway through and I know I should re-read it when I’m done. Already I’m flipping back pages and re-reading as I go. Here’s one passage I found particularly striking about a monk who burned himself protesting the Vietnam War:

“He imagined his brother burning – he often did – Thu’s body in the flame, dreadful pain outside, going up his nostrils and in. And then as a monkey holds two branches for an instant, lets go of the first and clings to the new one, he was no longer the body, but the fire.”

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