Some people can watch the same movie, or read the same book, over and over again. These are the kinds of people with nice DVD and book collections. I am not (typically) one of those people. But right now I'm re-reading Thomas Wolfe's "You Can't Go Home Again," and I am enjoying it immensely. I'd say this is partly because it is a work of real genius (trust me, read it-- there is not one throwaway sentence in the whole thing) and also because the time in which it's set (late 1920's early 1930's) and the surrounding macro-economic issues resonate today. Not that it wasn't relevant back in 2004, when I first read the book, but now I'm old enough to understand more of it.
The book was published posthumously in 1940, two years after Wolfe died at the age of 38. The feverish, brilliant way it's written makes me think that somehow, he knew this would be his last hurrah. It has that much of a passionate, almost polemical feel.I've been so fortunate to have a job, and a lifestyle, in which I've been able to travel so much more than the average person. Since the first time nine years ago I boarded a plane solo (for a church convention in Denver, also the trip that I eased my way into becoming a coffee drinker with daily Frappuccinos), I felt what Wolfe describes in the book:
Perhaps this is our strange and haunting paradox here in America-- that we are fixed and certain only when we are in movement. At any rate, that is how it seemed to young George Webber, who was never so assured of his purpose as when he was going somewhere on a train. And he never had the sense of home so much as when he felt he was going there. It was only when he got there that his homelessness began.