Did our Founding Fathers read while sitting on their chamber pots? In my childhood in Serbia, when outhouses were common in the countryside and toilet paper was regarded by ordinary folk as a decadent luxury, the pile of old newspapers we kept in there provided not only the necessary substitute, but also inviting reading material, which supplemented my education and entertained me. It used to be a common experience, and most likely still is in some homes, that if a child or a grownup was missing and could not be found, someone was sent to knock on the bathroom door. We’ve all had family members who spent inordinate amount of time on the potty or lying in a tub filled with water reading magazines and novels, until a small line had formed outside the door, each of us as impatient to relieve ourselves as to find out what the last occupant, looking guilty, had been reading in there.
As a guest in homes of strangers, I have discovered bathroom libraries that took my breath away by their size and intellectual pretensions. It was unclear to me whether Plato’s dialogues in original Greek, together with Marx’s The Communist Manifesto, Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel were there to impress the visitor, or in the case of another fellow who had a pile of memoirs by ex-presidents going back to Reagan, to make him laugh. I can’t say that I’ve encountered a whole lot of poetry in bathrooms, even in the homes of poets, though I’ve come across many an anthology. Would reading one of Hamlet’s soliloquies or John Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale” in such a setting be unbecoming? / Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books Blog
Was mich betrifft, ich les auf dem Klo nur Lyrik. Lager sie aber nicht dort. (Falls wieder jemand mißverstehen möchte: ich hab nicht gesagt, ich les Lyrik nur auf dem Klo! Welche, sag ich sowieso nicht. Es kann jedeN treffen. Upps, schiefes Bild.) M.G.