Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Franz Wright, “Learning to Read”

If I had to look up every fifth or sixth word, so what. I looked them up. I had nowhere important to be. My father was unavailable, and my mother looked like she was about to break, and not into blossom, every time I spoke. My favorite was the Iliad. True, I had trouble pronouncing the names, but when was I going to pronounce them, and to whom? My stepfather maybe? Number one, he could barely speak English; two, he had sufficient intent to smirk or knock me down without any prompting from me. Loneliness, boredom and terror my motivation fiercely fuelled. I get down on my knees and thank God for them. Du Fu, the Psalms, Whitman, Rilke. Life has taught me to understand books.

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