Every once in a while this editor steps away from someone else's work to craft his own. Forgive, therefore, this somewhat self-involved note. Reading as a writer sometimes means delving intensely into one book only to about face and search elsewhere soon thereafter. At least for some. A lack of discipline? Perhaps (though I pray not)! As of late working on a new novel has taken me from War and Peace to Henry James' The Princess Casamassima back to Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!, from Faulkner to David Foster Wallace's The Pale King to Allen Drury's Advise and Consent, from Drury to an enticing read-through of Paul Ryan's Budget (one character is more than loosely base on Ryan), and, at last, to that hefty copy of Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke, which won the 2007 National Book Award. With my daughter on my lap as I type and our other little one around the corner, I'm faced with this not scrupulous question: being able to read what I wish or will only during that one fatigued, weary, and incredible hour before bed, I must ask: am I really simultaneously reading all of the above, a handful of them, or not really any of them at all? And, last but not least, what business do I have in picking up Tree of Smoke when time is so scarce--not to say sacred? And yet, this review the never gentle Stefan Beck wrote for The New Criterion brings my hand closer and closer to the book's spine. To read or not to read?