I hated this book when I first read it back in 1996, which is an embarrassing thing for someone like me—a genius—to admit. But it happens. Even geniuses can't be geniuses ALL THE TIME, can we? For fuck's sake! Sometimes we have to start a little lower on the slope, or take the scenic route. The roundabout. We have to make mistakes so we'll know what to appreciate later on. And when later on comes, if we're lucky, if we slow down and consider and start to listen, we learn to hear.
This book, though. I don't think I'm wrong when I say it's a bit of a sticky wicket*, a deceptive amalgam of pieces—part fictionalized autobiography, part epistolary novel, part diary, part photo album—parceled out at a slow hum over decades and countries in different voices and from varying points of view. Many people would toss it aside and say "nothing happens," which is only true if you're not paying attention. This in fact is exactly what I said back then, the first time, and I threw it away when I finished it. In the trash can. More embarrassing still.
Luckily we geniuses can usually admit when we're wrong, and do try again to slow down and listen—and learn to hear. Sometimes we're rewarded. And sometimes we're rewarded with something precious.
Do you remember that day last October when I experienced my first terrible headache? I found you in the kitchen wearing one of those new and dreadful plastic aprons. You put your arms around me at once and reached up to smooth my temples. I loved you terribly at that moment. The crackling of your apron against my body seemed like an operatic response to the longings which even then I felt. It was like something whispering at us to hurry, to stop wasting time, and I would like to have danced with you through the back door, out into the garden, down the street, over the line of the horizon. Oh, my dear. I thought we would have more time.
* A sticky wicket, (or sticky dog, or glue pot) is a metaphor used to describe a difficult circumstance. It originated as a term for difficult circumstances in the sport of cricket, caused by a damp and soft pitch. /wikipedia