How do we honor the books we no longer identify with that once felt like the perfect articulation of our being? My strategy for the longest time has been to simply not reread them. But that sort of willful ignorance just doesn’t feel sustainable. There has to be a way to honor what the book once did while still problematizing its contents.
All of this is to say what so many writers have already said: it’s hard to write a novel and act like a human being. You can’t have a foot in both worlds, half in and half out of your mind. So some writers go on a solo retreat, some writers drink, and some writers wake up to write while polite society is still sleeping—in any case, they find a marker, something that signals that they are no longer in the old world.