It seems I skipped the annual anniversary post last year, but since I’m not writing the review I should be working on, I thought I’d stop and acknowledge this small achievement and thank everyone who has stopped by this literary space since I first recklessly launched it while I was unknowingly spiraling into a manic crisis that would ultimately end my career back in 2014. If nothing else, it has provided me a place to talk about books and writing, and make the acquaintance of many wonderful readers, writers, translators and publishers around the world. Roughghosts would be nothing without the company of others who also cherish literature.
In its early days, my blog was filled with much of my frustration about chronic mental illness and the stigma that has never been overcome. The subject still arises here on occasion but many of angriest posts have been made private. I try to stick to books, sometimes the subject of writing, and only when I am really down, do I open up a little more. (Of course, those are the posts that tend to get the strongest immediate response—always supportive—but I try not to complain about the world too often.)
The past year has been pretty smooth, if quiet. I have stayed close to home, tracing the same beloved trails and trying, with some difficulty, to regain the level of fitness I had prior to breaking my leg last year. I am, I suppose, at the age when it takes longer to get back to where I used to be. The weather—prolonged cold through the winter and unexpected heat early in May—has been one factor, but a new respect for caution has slowed me down a little. I rarely go out without my trekking poles and (wisely) take fewer risks than I once did. I’m also looking forward to travelling for the first time since 2019, hoping to return to India in September.
As I look back over the last twelve months, I’m pleased with the number and quality of the reviews I’ve published. I’m a slow reader and a slow writer and, aside from a post like this, I rarely ever compose online—every piece is typically written over several days on a Word document and uploaded to WordPress. For now this is still a satisfying activity for me; I have yet to feel a strong desire to pitch essays or reviews for publication elsewhere. To be honest, I do like being able to track the amount of attention my reviews get, at publication and over time. It’s a window into the varying interest certain books generate. And because this is my blog, I am not tied to reading only new releases. That is, I believe, the true beauty of the book blog, or when I’m being fancy, “literary site.” Over the past year, for example, my most popular post—over 4500 views since last September—is a review of Mahsweta Devi’s classic Mother of 1084. I can only assume it has been on the school curriculum in India (and wonder how many suspiciously similar reports teachers have received).
I have no special objectives for the next year of roughghosts. I read and write about books for myself first and foremost—that is, as an exercise in both reading and writing—and I am ever grateful for everyone who has stopped by (even those who, judging by their bizarre search terms, must have been sorely disappointed by what they found). Here’s to another year of great books and excellent company!