Monday, April 22, 2013

Reading Frenzy

      I'm one of those rabid reader people. I start to jones when I'm getting near the end of a book that I'm enjoying. I'll read the thing like a woman possessed, but as the last chapters come into view I'll slow waaaayyy down to prolong the agony of being...finished.  When I finally muster the courage to read the last chapter, I will savor each word in each sentence. After I read the last line,  I'll place the book down on the table and try to imagine how I'm going to carry on.  My body will feel like an empty husk, my wan expression will bear evidence of the sadness deep in my soul.  It's over. It's the same feeling that I used to have as I went to bed on Christmas night when I was a little kid. Remember that? The build up for Christmas is so psycho-amazing when you're little. Between the cookie decorating, tree decorating, candles with colored light bulbs in each window, and the presents? Christmas is like a little kid crack party.  And then it's all over. The next day is just another day. It's not special. It's Dec. 26. Big whoop. The decorations lose their sparkle, the tree looks limp. You get it.  That's how I feel after I finish a really good book. Sad, like I'll never find a book to read that is that good again. It's a wonder that I'm not in therapy.

  I have a Kindle, but after the first couple of months the novelty of reading a clinical paragraphs on a grey tablet the size of a large index card wore off.  Call me old fashioned, but I'm a library book person.  Our local library in Millbrook kinda sucks. The librarians are all prudish older women, with permanent parsimonious expressions stamped on their faces. They basically exude an air of disapproval. Of what? I don't know the answer, maybe it's just life in general, enjoyment, puppies and chocolate. There is one nerdy young dude who is now working at the library. He's just what you're picturing in your head. Tall, geeky, clunky dark framed glasses (of course!), wears tight sweaters and has a prominent adam's apple.  I can see him at the guidance counselor's office as a junior in high school, tapping a pencil on his Battlestar Galactica trapper keeper saying in an excited high nasal voice, "I'm really interested in becoming a librarian!", while the guidance counselor suppresses a yawn and replies, "Of course you are, Steven."
Selecting a book at the library is like playing the lottery. I try to limit myself to three books at a time, four at the most. My standard method for selection is to read the title, open the jacket, read a bit of the blurb on the inside cover and scan the first page.  For me it's either in, or out. I'm not into cheesy romances, or period pieces about war, or dragons, or women clad in corsets and bustles. I like real, fleshed out characters, good description and a story that will hook me in so deeply that while I'm reading it I'll forget that I have clothes that need folding in the dryer and nineteen other things that need doing while I'm sitting on my ass with my nose in a book.

 This morning I finished what I considered to be a very excellent novel. It's called, "Truth in Advertising" by John Kenney, a first time novelist. The writing is as smooth as glass. The story is sweet and sad, but not schmaltzy. The main character was wry, smart and quick witted and you love him, feel sorry for him, want to take him out for a drink. I want more of him. I miss him already. When I read John Updike's "Rabbit, run" series of four novels about an ordinary man from PA named Harry Angstrom, nicknamed Rabbit, there was security that Harry would have some longevity. This was to be a long term relationship and by the end of the last book, "Rabbit at Rest", you were wistful, but ready to let him go. He'd run his course. Harry wasn't the best guy in the world for a multitude of reasons, but in the end you still like him and even though he smoked for years, drank too much and ate pounds of greasy food, you're still sad that he dies of a heart attack at the end.

  I have one more book to read out of my current library stack of three. However, I need a few hours before I'm ready to start it. I'm not over the mourning period of finishing the last one. I need a little space. Some closure. Time for deep reflection.  I may light some candles and chant. Don't worry, I'll find the strength to carry on and read again. I always do.

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