On the back of the fourth renewal notice since March, this time pleading with me to explain why I was not renewing my subscription:
Dear NYR of Books,
I love the NYReview - but it piles up. It piles up. I live in a small apt., like a Collyer brother of yore. Things fall apart. The closet cannot hold. Ask me what I like to do in bed: read, edit, watch opera DVDs, eat meals, exercise, plot, plotz.
I read slow. I hate to throw things out. I dropped The New Yorker and all the glossies because they fall off the bed onto the floor and are slippery there and that's dangerous for a bachelor. I didn't get the New Yorker on disk, though tempted, because ... who has the time? I read slow.
I love to take NYR on trips and read them on insomniac nights, intending to leave them behind one by one across Italy or Turkey or British Columbia - but I always seem to bring them home with me anyway. One last article I didn't get to. Y'know? And they pile up.
I love Tony Judt. And Tim Ash. And William Pfaff and Charles Rosen and Paul Krugman and Andre Aciman and Orhan Pamuk and Alison Lurie and Charles Simic and Daniel Mendelsohn. But ...
Spent Feb to May finally getting through back issues 2005-2008. I'm almost back to 2004. Pretty good, eh? If new ones kept arriving, I'd never have made it. Threw out 20-30. Saving the odd article, clipped, put inside books or into a special notebook. But they pile up.
It piles up. And it's on line (bless you - and the TLS - and the London Review - and The New Yorker - and The Nation - and Foreign Affairs). And if I want to read an article that you have not put up on line (the one on the myths inspired by Alexander the Great, e.g.), it is in your table of contents and the public library is five blocks up Seventh Avenue.
So there you have it. The most pretentious words I ever read were Gertrude Stein's (inexact quote, read it 30 years ago): "Gertrude Stein feared that one day she would have read all the books she wanted to read, but in time she realized that this would not happen."
Never mind writing them, too, which I am trying to do.
P.S. Fonds to Tony Judt. And Bill Pfaff and Tim Ash and Charles Rosen