In yesterday’s Chicago Tribune Steve Chapman wrote a column entitled “In Praise of Fat Books and Slow Reading”. What joy, recognizing that indeed “no man is an island”; there is always someone in the vast “beyond” who shares one’s weird proclivities; books over a thousand pages, weighing pounds, not ounces; Mr. Chapman spoke to my literary gene, “If you really like a book, why would you want it to be shorter?”
Being a shy, reclusive child I found the greatest companionship in the written word; books starve off loneliness, heartache, boredom; they feed the soul with unimaginable adventures, rip the blinders off myopic prejudices, open the portals of kings, martyrs, murderers, deviates, politicians, artists ( I love it all, the plebeian and the divine); never leaving the confines of your own village, domicile, the world is splayed on a page, restricted boundaries demolished; demanding, desiring to be voraciously devoured.
Like Mr. Chapman I dread the finale of an illustrious book and terrified that the next one cannot compete; unlike Steve, I consume at an unhealthy rate, one after another, oftentimes reading, gobbling three or four simultaneously, depending on my fatigue level. Maybe like Keats, I have fears that I may cease to be, before my brain has gleaned my teaming hunger, manic quest for the heart and life that beats between the bindings.
Also, never without a book I can read anywhere: riding backwards on a speeding train, car, plane, bus, I have yet to encounter a vehicle that can stump or cripple my need; in a dentist chair, recovering from surgery, my gurney is a library; even in movie houses, the kindle fire brightens, lightens, perpetually vanquishing the ubiquitous, cloying “trailers”.
Steve Chapman was facetious about his “inadequate capacity for retention”; even those with eidetic memories cannot house the millions of words, premises, that have cascaded before their eyes, but assuredly many of those formidable words, thoughts are indissoluble and reside comfortably and at peace in the cherished closets of their minds.
Mr. Chapman concludes by stating: “The best books are like the best romances: They last as long as you live.” I am in absolute concurrence.