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Heavenly Breakfast

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Latest randomly chosen book from my unread shelves: Delany's 1979 memoir Heavenly Breakfast. Which, as I opened it, gave me enough deja vu that I think I actually did read it before. There's a slip of paper inside, dated June '95, a note from me to my father, wishing him a happy Father's Day; I don't know whether the book was a gift to him from me or whether he was just using the slip of paper as a bookmark.

But the book is short, and I started reading or re-reading it, and it's one of those moments (I've had a few in recent months) where after weeks of reading stuff that hasn't grabbed me, there's a vividness and clarity to the prose and to the content; as if all the other non-recent writing I've been reading lately has been in dull gray, and this is a sparkly rainbow. Good stuff.

Something about the style and/or the format is making me think of Times Square Red/Times Square Blue, which I hadn't read last time I looked at Heavenly Breakfast. The casual recounting of personal incidents that illustrate ideas about the ways that people interact.

I think it's also interacting nicely in my head with Panshin's “How Can We Sink When We Can Fly?”, which was written half a dozen years earlier (but set a few years later), and which I read for the first time a couple of months ago, and may have been the last item from my old-unread-books shelves that I got that “wow, this is worth paying attention to” feeling from.

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I am a huge fan of Delany's memoirs always, but I think Heavenly Breakfast might be the best of the lot. I haven't reread it in many years, but three or four scenes stand out with perfect clarity.

Also, I think it's one of the best books I've ever found to convey the '60s. Delany is older than I am, and lived far deeper into the communal world of the '60s than I did, but the flavor feels so right to me. (Peter Coyote's Sleeping Where I Fall is another fine book for that.)


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