Does anyone else get the doldrums after finishing a particular great book? I’ve found that there’s a satisfying literary aftertaste for a couple days, and then all of a sudden every new book is dead on the page. I’ll pick up another book or two, try different genres or authors, but nothing helps. These are the Great Book Doldrums.
My most palpable sense of the Great Book Doldrums came after Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda. Beyond the obvious effect of the subject matter, the book was so brilliant and so powerful that I couldn’t even approach another book for a week. And as any serious reader knows, a week without reading may as well be a week without water. I still count the book as among my nonfiction top ten.
After the great Asterios Polyp, which was so fresh and alive with ideas, nothing’s doing. Tried the new Pynchon (one of my favorite authors, ever)… meh. Read a couple of Aleksandar Hemon’s short stories from The Question of Bruno… meh. Maybe I’ll swing the pendulum the other direction and try some nonfiction, but all the lights are a little dimmer after Mazzucchelli’s 500 watt bulb.
Does anyone know of a cure for the Great Book Doldrums? Is it variety? Some sort of media clense? Whiskey?