Three days in Rome
This afternoon, not in Rome but at least by the waters of the Thames, I have read the whole of next week's TLS.
The only bad thing about becoming editor of this great paper - almost a decade ago now - is that I lost the thrill of sitting down with an old TLS on a Sunday afternoon and reading almost everything in it.
Reading the next one - and most of it not for the first time - is not quite the same.
But it was a lovely sunny afternoon. And old or new, there can be always be strange interconnections within any issue read at a single sitting, not all of them intended.
Next week, I can reveal, is therapy week. Alfred Kazin's Journals follows Alice Munro's New Selected Stories.
Kazin, as Zachary Leader explains in a review well worthy of its brilliant subject, produced a 7,000 page journal of his life even though his thrice-weekly visits to his therapist removed the need for too much writing of irrationality and confession.
Munro's disturbing stories of sexuality and dreams, in an evocative lead review by Ruth Scurr, are cooled by the voice of therapy but powered by its irrationalities. I learnt that in the story, "Chance" (2004), there is even the presence of the classicist's own modern classic on the subject, E.R. Dodds' "The Greeks and the Irrational'.
Dodds' book is one worth rereading from time to time - as well as reading about. It does not stay the same. If I had had him to hand, I would have likely left more of the TLS for tomorrow in the office. But he was not with me by the river this afternoon. Nor were any other books. All are in boxes in a store nearby. The house from which many past posts have been made to this blog contains builders only right now.
But there was next week's TLS - from cover to cover - in the Autumn sun among the geese. Most excellent it was - as I hope that many more readers, encouraged by this revived blog on our even more revived website, will soon discover. Subscribe now. You know it makes sense.
Driving back to London an hour ago, I happened to put on an old Sheryl Crowe CD, the one with the song, Three Days in Rome, about the woman who finds unhappily that her former lover has put their mini-break in a book.
A great song, as I just about recall from however long ago it was that it came out. It is one of those songs that once seemed by its anger and intensity to come from true experience. [That is the kind of loose feeling or statement that classicists avoid making about ancient poetry but is perhaps OK for pop songs]
This afternoon it seemed more like an echo of Portnoy's Complaint, a pop-song version of a Roman story delivered direct to his therapist by its hero. But that thought probably comes only from too continuous reading of the TLS.