Reading Susan Sontag has always felt like gentle rain coming down on you midday, on a quiet street with no shade in sight, no umbrella on hand.
So you soak all of it in. You let her words seep through your pores, a place where water meets itself.
After reading her diaries and journals, I was eager for more.
I was curious: would these stories be different from her journal entries, musings and observations, each a pseudo-short story in itself?
Surprisingly, I settled within each story naturally.
Sontag’s rhythm even in prose is unmistakable, and I sought to find her in each one as I did with her journals.
And there she always was, gleaming in between action or whatever emotion came hurtling out of the page.
In Pilgrimmage, Sontag writes how two curious high-schoolers, also voracious readers, managed to get themselves invited to their favorite writer’s home. The story is an ode to reading and writing, both ends of the literary spectrum where the writer meets the reader in the pages. But in this particular story, the writer meets the readers in real life in an encounter so surreal it had me sitting on the edge of my seat.
After all, isn’t it every reader’s dream to meet/have coffee or tea with their favorite author?
Then there’s a story that reads like Sontag’s journals, called Project Trip to China wherein she notes a myriad of topics and things coming up for a trip to the country. I love how meticulous she is about this particular topic, as she weaves facts about China and her presuppositions. She writes about her own observations about the political conditions of the country, at a time of Mao Tse-tung’s reign.