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2012-01-20 06:08:38 (UTC)



Yesterday, 19 January 2012, in The New York Times on the Web Dwight Garner wrote “A City Portrayed by Diarists Who Had Their Own Problems.” Garner’s piece was a review of a hefty 500 page book entitled New York Diaries: 1609 to 2009 and edited by a Teresa Carpenter.1 Collections like this one, volumes of stray letters or anecdotes, Garner writes, tend to be hobbled by built-in literary defects. Reading them, she goes on, can be unsustaining and ill-making, the equivalent of eating only the yolks from eggs; one’s intellectual diet requires fibre too. Ms Carpenter mostly avoids this problem by mixing her material so well, blending the quotidian with the extraordinary. I don’t think I could read this book. It would not be, for me, sustaining. To each their own I’ve always said.

I took an interest, though, in this article in The New York Times on the Web because of my interest in diaries. I’ve been keeping one, a multi-genred diary since the early 1980s or the early 1960s, if I define my diary very loosely. I’m never quite sure when I started mine because I now see my letters and poems, prose-poems and essays, autobiography and memoir as one long diary. My diary does not cover 400 years as this collection of Carpenter’s does, its odds and ends about a city and its people. But my diary covers a flotsam and jetsam, an immense variety of stuff which could be represented by the sides of an equilateral triangle: self, society and religion.-Ron Price with thanks to 1The New York Times on the Web, 20 January 2012.

I have a collection, too:
stray letters, anecdotes,
poems, essays, odds &
ends, diary & journal.
Reading it can be life-
sustaining, unsustaining,
with fibre or without: a
part of the immense print-
glut of our 21st century to
be consumed in its entirety,
perhaps in the 23rd century,
or not at all, just ignored by
those with better things to do,
to read, with more stimulating
things to watch—snippets from
a relative nobody who liked to
write especially after he retired
from a lifetime of jobs: 1959-99.

Ron Price
20 January 2012