Anxiety, vague and subterranean, began to encroach on me whenever I was in the library. At first I hardly realized what it was, only aware of a twinge of uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. But day after day it grew stronger, closing in around my neck, as did my sense of aimlessness and futility. I read without absorbing the meaning of the words. I would flip back and begin again at the last place I remembered reading, but after a while the sentences would dissolve again and I would go back to skidding obliviously across the blank pages, like those insects you find on the surface of stagnant water. I felt more and more unnerved and began to dread going to the library. I became anxious about becoming anxious. Entering the library, I began to panic. The fact that the panic was bound up in reading – the thing that had been at the center of my life for as long as I could remember, and which in the past had formed a bulwark against despair – made it especially difficult. I’d been sad often enough before, but I’d never felt this siege from within, as if my own being had developed an allergy to itself. At night I lay awake feeling that even as I lay still there, on some other level I was becoming further and further unbound.

Great House, Nicole Krauss, p. 127-8


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