Thursday, June 16, 2016


Reading in Bed

Charles Boer, Charles Olson in Connecticut (Chicago: Swallow Press, 1975), pp. 24-25 (Boer addresses Olson as "you" throughout):
That night, and for many nights to come, you took large amounts of the refrigerator's contents to bed with you—everything from a jug of orange juice, a quart of ginger ale, candy, a head of lettuce to a box of crackers, cheese and hard-boiled eggs. Your arms loaded, you staggered back into the room and dumped everything on the bed.

You also wanted things to read in bed, and I regularly offered you a book or two that I thought you might not have read. Among other things, you agreed to read Land to the West by Geoffrey Ashe, a book on the weather conditions in antiquity by Rhys Carpenter, and an illustrated book called Secret Societies. The books had to be informational, no novels and certainly no poetry; and the information had to be of such a kind that the man who wrote it used himself somewhere in the book, drawing out of his own person the theory of the book.

Nonetheless, every time I gave you such a book you were sceptical and reluctant to take it, though the next day (you would get up in the early afternoon of the next day) you would be terribly excited about the previous night's reading, with notes and plans to pursue the book. It would start all over again the next night with the same scepticism and reluctance about the next book. You were a hard man to please.

I remember well that first night, after you had finally gone to bed (the whole ritual could take hours), hearing you in the next room furiously turning the pages of the books, munching vigorously on the lettuce and other food. Every few hours that night I was suddenly awakened by a new burst of frantic munching and page-turning. It went on all night.

Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Crackers in Bed

Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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