Sometimes I stop reading a book, not because I do not like the book but because I like it far too much. There may be a sense that I resent the book having a certain kind of authority which I want to defy, by ignoring it for a time, or chasing it off with another book. This happened to me recently. I was reading Modiano, again— SUCH FINE BOYS— when it occurred to me that I must stop. The pleasure was too intense. Was this what Roland Barthes had so often remarked on, juissance, the pleasure of the text. Or was it something else? The feeling that there was a demand this text would now place on me to feel something that i did not wish to feel, to remember a time or times in my life that would cause me to write and that writing would be difficult though necessary. I put Modiano away and began reading Moravia. What is it about these French and Italian writers whose names begin with M, who evoke a lost period in history, Vichy and Mussolini, a period of casual violence and ruined relationships, fascism and resistance, shadowy characters on the page that are interchangeable and ultimately unknowable but who nonetheless draw us into inscrutable mysteries before disappearing? So now I’ve chased Modiano with Moravia and even ordered my next Moravia novel, THE WOMAN OF ROME, but I know I will come back to Modiano and SUCH FINE BOYS, although I do not know when. My reading life is without any discernible schedule other than avoidance.