Zero K by Don DeLillo:
When she was at work I’d take a phone message for her and write down the information, making certain to tell her when she came home. Then I waited for her to return the call. Actively watched and waited. I reminded her once and then again that the lady from the dry cleaner had called and she looked at me with a certain expression, the one that said I am looking at you this way because there is no point wasting words when you can recognize the look and know that is says what should not need to be said. It made me nervous, not the look but the phone call waiting to be returned. Why isn’t she calling back. What is she doing that’s so important that she can’t call me back. Time is passing, the sun is setting, the person is waiting, I am waiting.
I wanted to be bookish and failed. I wanted to steep myself in European literature. There I was in our modest garden apartment, in a nondescript part of Queens, steeping myself in European literature. The word steep was the whole point. Once I decided to steep myself, there was no need to read the word. I tried at times, made an effort but failed. I was technically unsteeped but also ever-intentioned, seeing myself in the chair reading a book even as I sat in the chair watching a movie on TV with French or German subtitles.