Timing is everything in life, isn’t it. You see, not only was I dating another book, some minor literary flirtation BUT I had completely forgotten why I had requested Bewilderment in the first place many months ago. It was 20 days into its 21 day borrowing period when I finally gave it my attention.
Reconciled to placing another hold, I idly started to read.
Of my goodness, Richard Powers: you had me at page 1. This novel is pure gold - erudite, beautiful, wise. It checked every box — character, plot, big ideas, style: the kind of book which felt like it was written for you and you alone. BUT it was 11 pm - Yikes!!!! - I only had 25 hours before the ebook would vanish into the ether…. Like John Cleese’s parrot, it would be thoroughly dead, at least to me. Were I to try to read it all in 24 hours, my talent for skimming would be of no use. Every sentence was going to demand my attention.
Fell asleep reading. Woke up and started reading. Walked the dogs at a trot. Ate while reading. Skipped Tai Chi. And 5:20 the next day, it was finished — over too soon.
If I were a smoker, I would have had a cigarette.
Thank you, libraries of the world. I can’t own every book I’ve read, at least not in this house. Only books I have already fallen for get to be purchased and come home to their forever bookshelf. You are matchmakers par excellence.
The narrator in the novel said it the best:
My son loved the library. He loved putting books on hold online and having them waiting, bundled up with his name, when he came for them. He loved the benevolence that the stacks held out, their map of the known world. He loved the all-you-can-eat buffet of borrowing. He loved the lending histories stamped into the front of each book, the record of strangers who checked them out before him. The library was the best dungeon crawl imaginable: free loot for the finding combined with the joy of levelling up.
Thank you, thank you.
A great book has the effect of inspiring me to paint. Go figure.