A Year in Reading: Rudolph Delson


Rudolph Delson’s debut novel, Maynard & Jennica, was published by Houghton Mifflin in September. He lives in Brooklyn and, as he is writing this biographical blurb, he has the flu. It’s pretty gross, especially when he coughs. Aside from not dying from the flu and his novel, he can think of no accomplishments worth recounting.What to read if you find that you hate people? For, like, ecological reasons? You see them in the airport, these people you hate, fat, apocalyptic cults of them, eating Cinnabon buns the size of the Aztec Sun Stone, scooting Stonehenge around in their enormous carry-ons, all of them convinced utterly that their appetites – to go to Mexico or to England, by plane, today, with all six of their children – are reputable appetites. You think to yourself, because you’re feeling hateful: “What do any of you give back to the earth – any of you – for all that you consume?”In such a mood I recommend reading Colin Tudge’s book of natural history, The Tree. Tudge recounts the fantastic evolution of the 750 species of fig tree, each one with its own species of wasp to pollinate it; describes how all commercial bananas are sexually sterile, grown from the cloning of suckers; explains “the five hormones by which plants run most of their lives,” and the chemistry of wood, and the evolution of flowers in prose as compelling as Gould’s and three times more elegant; provides a section, 160 pages long, called “All the Trees in the World” that makes mention of the tree you climbed at age five. This book made me cry, three or four times, in … in what? Awe? Sorrow? “A tree might ask, why bother with brains and all the expense and angst that go with them, when you can run your life just as well without?”More from A Year in Reading 2007