Okay, I have a confession to make. I downloaded a solitaire ap to my tablet. While this may not seem like “stop the presses” news, I gave up computer solitaire three or four New Year’s ago. It was a bigger time suck than Facebook (which, let’s face it, if you stay away from the games does have redeeming qualities—seeing what friends are up to, keeping in touch with family on the ennui of daily life), and I found it distracting without any positives. At least Sudoku teases the brain a bit. Clicking on cards that are randomly lucky or not is just a waste of time.
Why the confession? Because aside from checking in on those January 1 resolutions, I’ve fallen behind on my reading. Thus, for this month, I’m rereading a book that is among my favorites of all time. I wrote about it back in November; it’s Milan Kundera’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.
As I began reading this book for a second time (the first was at least a decade ago), I came upon the ironic realization how much of it I had forgotten. I still have a ways to go, but the book feels new to me all over again. Of course, the typical Kundera memes are ever present: mixing fact with fiction, changing tenses, myriad stories that seem disconnected but (probably) aren’t. Questions of sex and love and longing and misunderstanding. These are the universal human angst issues.
What’s more interesting to me as I read through the book are my notes. Apparently once upon a time, I would mark up my books with underlines and commentary (often nothing more than a “!!!” in the margins). The passages I considered profound in the early years of my marriage—when I was still deluding myself that things would get better—are hit or miss today. Some of them still resonate, but I find myself reaching for a new instrument (perhaps a colored pencil, so I can delineate between then and now) to mark different sections of the book that seem closer to my older self.
I wonder if by the time I finish The Book of Laughter and Forgetting if it will remain among my favorites of all time. I have read other books by Kundera since that resonate more loudly than the first 50 pages of the re-read. It’s funny how the mind plays tricks on us and selective memory creates a history that may not have been there at all.
Which is kind of the point of this novel.