I rarely have time to reread a book. There are so many titles I’d love to take a second crack at, like Nabokov’s Pale Fire,or all the novels by Marguerite Duras. I’d love to reread Daniel Martin by John Fowles. Hell, I’d love to lose myself in the The Magus again if I were only eighteen. I’d relish being haunted by John Cowper Powys’ Wolf Solent.
I suppose the act of rereading is best suited to works from which additional insights and knowledge can be gleaned. (Epiphany, anyone?) But I prefer to reread for simple pleasure and escape. That is, whenever I can steal time away from all the new titles that arrive on my desk.
I’ve reread Under Milk Wood for the mere lilt of Dylan’s sea-bobbing prose. And the works of the French humorist Alphonse Allais where I splash and cannonball in his absurdist pool.
This holiday I’ve returned (although I never really left) to Donald Westlake. Namely, his hilarious Dortmunder novels. Alas, this comic crime series ended on New Year’s Eve 2008 when Westlake passed away. His death left me looking as depressed as his main character and I still find it hard to believe another “Dort” will not suddenly appear.
So I’m rereading the novels and laughing out loud. Doesn’t matter if I remember the plot, just being in Westlake’s world is enough for me. Sitting in the backroom of the O.J. Bar & Grill on Amsterdam Avenue with John and the boys and I feel like I’m home.
It’s even better the second time around.