I’m no good at re-reading my favorite books. The way I see it, there are just a precious few years we have in this world and there are just too damned many books— a lot of them actually quite good— to waste time doing anything other than reading new, new, new. But as I’ve aged I’ve been wistful for some of those long past experiences, to turn favorite pages once more.
A few years back there was a little website (then the style was “Web Site”) called Friendster. Friendster was the first of a progression of three sites that encouraged us to distill our lives into a series of “best of” lists. Defining our personalities by our favorite media consumed. Suddenly, a list of one’s favorite books became a finely crafted mental object. One’s set of favorite bands said “I belong to a particular scene and am knowledgeable of its dark corners and back alleys.” I worked my ass off on those lists. I picked the absolutely sceniest music, the highest-brow cinema, the most obscure fiction, and my lists became codified into a canon of sorts. But today, I realize most of the books on that painstakingly-selected top five are pretty foreign to me. I read Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Project for a Revolution in New York one time at 19 years old. And though I remember loving it, I do have to ask if it made my top five because it was an incredible work of literature or because its author was obscure and its title sexy?
So I’ve decided to revisit Project for a Revolution in New York, and all the other books, movies, music, video games, and TV shows that I’ve claimed to love. That I’ve compiled to define my persona.
This year I’ve turned thirty-three years old. Between this birthday and the next I will read, watch, and listen to as much of my master list as I can and write about it along the way. It’ll be a whole year dedicated to reviewing, both as in re-visiting and also in writing about those experiences. I’ll do my best to not consume new media this year— just stick exclusively to the Master List.
Why thirty-three? Assuming one can live to a hundred in this modern age, this means I’ll get to do this three times in my life. Once this year, again at sixty-six and once more at ninety-nine.
Thinking about the finite number of times in which I have to re-read these books is an acknowledgement of my own impending demise. Perhaps for the first time, the surefire ease of youth gives way to a measured view of a limited time on earth. In many ways, a reviewing of one’s life is a meditation on mortality. I don’t expect to write so much about that. But I do expect I’ll write a fair amount about those thirty-three years that came before. These media experiences relived will unlock chests of memory and emotion deep in my heart’s attic, with some good and some bad that I am expecting, but I’m sure an awful lot of things that will take me completely by surprise.
This is also an conscious effort to build a canon. The Andrew Fitzgerald Canon of Books, Movies, TV Shows, Video Games and Musical Albums. Though of course, building a canon means culling this master list a bit. What from this list will I reread at sixty-six? What books will be resigned to the dustbin of my youth?
I have a whole year to find out.
January 18, 2014