Summary from Goodreads:
One of our most beloved writers reassess the electrifying works of literature that have shaped her life
I sometimes think I was born reading . . . I can’t remember the time when I didn’t have a book in my hands, my head lost to the world around me.
Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-reader is Vivian Gornick’s celebration of passionate reading, of returning again and again to the books that have shaped her at crucial points in her life. In nine essays that traverse literary criticism, memoir, and biography, one of our most celebrated critics writes about the importance of reading–and re-reading–as life progresses. Gornick finds herself in contradictory characters within D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, assesses womanhood in Colette’s The Vagabond and The Shackle, and considers the veracity of memory in Marguerite Duras’s The Lover. She revisits Great War novels by J. L. Carr and Pat Barker, uncovers the psychological complexity of Elizabeth Bowen’s prose, and soaks in Natalia Ginzburg, “a writer whose work has often made me love life more.” After adopting two cats, whose erratic behavior she finds vexing, she discovers Doris Lessing’s Particularly Cats.
Guided by Gornick’s trademark verve and insight, Unfinished Business is a masterful appreciation of literature’s power to illuminate our lives from a peerless writer and thinker who “still read[s] to feel the power of Life with a capital L.”
Unfinished Business is fine. I found it kind of hard to really get into the author’s narration of re-reading the specific books she chose to discuss. I have only read one of them – LJ Carr’s A Month in the Country – and others were very unfamiliar to me. It could be generational. Based on events Gornick talks about in her life she’s approximately my parents’ age. Books that I read and found to be touchstones that I return to are definitely not the same books that they found meaningful for them. I also didn’t get a sense, from this book, the breadth of Gornick’s taste in reading. The writing was quite nice, though, very readable.
Dear FTC: I read a digital galley of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.