Saturday, March 14, 2015

Into the Archives

I'm a habitual re-reader of favorite books. It's the reason that many of them stack up on the shelves of Chez Hedgehog and why my copies of a few select favorites look like they've been to the ends of the earth and back. There are smudges on pages, discolorations where tea has been split, the covers are all beat up, etc.

It's a little harder to reread blogs--sorted as things are in reverse chronological order and requiring a fair amount of clicking and internet connection for said rereads. So it's probably not a surprise that there's only one blog I've fully reread: the Yarn Harlot.

The first time I went through the full archives I was still living in La Crosse and probably working on a blanket or something else that didn't require a huge amount of attention. I don't remember much about it other than sitting in my living room pressing "Next Entry" on my laptop. The second time was, from my own archives, December 2010. The third was about 18 months ago--apparently I've sped up my cycle.

And I've just completed my fourth reread. Yup, start to finish, all the way through every blog post (okay, so I skimmed some of the book tour posts).  Stephanie has been writing for 11+ years and frequently posting 5 days a week, there's a lot of material there.  As this hasn't been my only activity and---again hampered by that need for internet--it's taken me about two months to get through the archive this time. I was only reading on my tablet, which only gets wifi, so that knocks out reading on the train.

I debated with myself a couple of weeks ago what was appealing about it to me. Am I just a crazy fan? I suppose in some way it could be construed as such, but ultimately I decided I liked it because it felt like reading a memoir, only one without ending or a message. I read memoirs from time to time, but frequently I avoid them because it seems that the point is to tell me how someone succeeded and there's an implication that if I just tried a little harder, or was a slightly better person, shouldn't I be accomplishing like this person did? I also don't do well with reading other people's hard times: I abhored Angela's Ashes for that reason, it felt like someone just hanging out all of the dirty laundry. I didn't care and only finished it because it was going to be on the midterm and final for that Irish lit class.

Reading, or in the Yarn Harlot's case re-reading, the archives shows me how a person has changed with less of an editorial hand and no coherent message that I'm supposed to walk away having learned. It's a snapshot of things as they were at a certain point in that person's life and I can see what has changed or hasn't. I'm not sure if I could ever see myself rereading my own archives, though I occasionally dive backwards and see what was interesting a few years back for a minute, nor have I found many writers who are compelling enough to send me back to the beginning. It's a testament to Stephanie's ability to write, her engagement with her world and her audience, that I've gone through a fourth time and vaguely wish there was an easier way to grab all of it, put it on the shelf and re-read offline until the pages are grubby with wear. Ultimately I'm glad though that it hasn't ended and that some point next week there will be another piece to the story.

And since I've finished, while I'm back to charging through several books littering the library shelf that are about to be overdue, I started looking around for another archive that I wanted to read.

I've started on Franklin Habit's The Panopticon. 








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