Chris Bauman: Not Fade Away

From Identity Theory, Chris Bauman on learning to read, again and again:

“I was twenty-two years old in Somalia, but still a year shy of reading A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. I’d read “Old Man at the Bridge” and “Soldier’s Home” in high school but was three months shy of reading them again and understanding….
….I still read mostly for joy, for discovery, but now I also intentionally read to learn, to hone craft, to keep me sharp, yes. And to keep me honest.
I revisit books I haven’t seen since I was fourteen and would crawl through my bedroom window onto the roof over the porch, smoking crumpled, bent cigarettes and reading Penguin and New American Library paperbacks by flashlight. But now I read as a young art student might walk galleries and cathedrals on his first trip to Rome. I’ve seen these paintings before, fallen in love with them long ago, but now I carefully eye weight, color, brush stroke. I’ve read—in some cases almost memorized—these books before but now I read them again, slowly, to discover why they worked (and discover, sometimes, the blemishes I’d missed).

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