The translator and poet Richard Howard on the telephone: “It’s so good to talk to somebody who gets Barthes.”
I wouldn’t say I get Barthes, but I get how to read him: with attention to Pauses, to how a sentence opens itself up with clause upon clause, like a telescope extending itself forever, or almost forever. The copy editor I’d hired for the newly translated edition of an early, seminal Barthes work has a tin ear: she cut up all the long sentences into “proper” shorter sentences: colons and semicolons were slashed to make way for commas and periods; capitalizations, demoted to Lowercase. It’s taken me three days to go through the manuscript marking “stet.” Said Howard as I listened to him shaking his head: “I stopped looking at it halfway through.”
My father’s heart is to be operated on next week: the continual editing of the body.
Tonight I stay in Flushing, and in the morning I will accompany my parents to the doctor to help them go through pre-admissions testing. Since chewing over the status of (burgeoning) Brooklynite for the past week, I haven’t had a moment to myself; but tonight, in the company of my parents, I will read a book for the fourth time: the first time had been in awe; the second, with blue pencil; the third, a pleasurable skimming; and tonight, now, a once-more now, with red pencil in hand.