Hi, everyone! And welcome to CitizenReader, which I hope will not be as technologically challenged a blog as Nonfiction Readers Anonymous was. But, let's face it, I'm still me...so it probably will be.
Why the change? Well, NRA wasn't working anymore, for one thing. For another, I just wanted a change that reflected my changing reading habits. CitizenReader will still primarily be about nonfiction. But I'll be including fiction reviews, too, and hopefully more thoughts about reading in general. I have come to realize (only took me about a third of a century) that reading is really the only thing I'm good at. And I'm going to try and do a lot more of it.
And now? A story!
I don't know where I came up with the name "Citizen Reader." My sister commented that it was vaguely Communist, so in her honor, I've used a red theme for the layout. It's also loosely based on Thomas Jefferson's idea that the nation should be filled with "citizen farmers," people who could feed themselves and take care of their own but who were still engaged with the larger world. That's what I'd like to be, only with reading. I'm still working on how to feed myself.
When I researched the name Citizen Reader, I came across an article by David Castronovo and Anne Whitehouse that discussed the literary critic Edmund Wilson's correspondence with one of his readers, who he referred to as his "citizen reader." I thought that was interesting and went to get a biography of Wilson, randomly selecting Edmund Wilson, by Jeffrey Meyers, from the library. Then, of course, I didn't get time to read it, but when I opened it up, a piece of paper from the book's former reader fell out. I'm providing it in full here, because it made me laugh.
"Edmund Wilson, Jeffrey Meyers.
Edmund Wilson drank to help his train of thought. He never stopped reading, writing and thinking. He wanted to know it all. Nothing human is without connection.
When Dorothy Parker, Benchley and Sherwood resigned from Vanity Fair, Frank Crowninshield recruited Edmund Wilson to fill the gap. 'Vanity Fair' was a cross between today's Esquire and New Yorker. Wilson published the work of Edna St. Vincent Millay. He introduced readers to Freud, Proust, Bergson, Eliot, Fitzgerald. He disliked the poetry of Frost and Pound and Wallace Stevens.
Edna Millay published her first poem in Vanity Fair in July 1920, shortly after Wilson joined the staff. During the next three years she brought out all her poetry and prose in that magazine and reached a much wider audience. Photographs of Millay fail to capture and convey the strange magnetism that attracted and inspired so many men. She was the most passionate love of Wilson's life. She was bisexual, loved sex and, in the true style of the bohemian twenties, seemed willing to sleep with everyone. Wilson lost his virginity to her."
Well, frankly, I don't think I need to read the biography after that. Although I may actually have learned more about Edna SVM than Edmund. Whoever wrote this handy summary also has a future in writing, I think. I love the first-line punch of "Edmund Wilson drank to help his train of thought."
So, welcome, citizen readers. Thanks for sticking it out with me. I'm so glad to be back.