Monday, August 22, 2011


i am extremely thankful for reading. definitely one of my favorite things to do. sometimes i think of a book or story i am reading and i become sort of giddy, like an eager child looking forward to a trip to the candy store. i have lost countless hours of sleep from not restraining myself from turning another page. i have thoughts of staying in for the weekend and reading for days. i might do it if i were single.

one of my favorite settings for reading is just like the opening chapter of a wrinkle in time. (one of my favorite books.) meg has a room in the attic of an old house and on this night the wind, rain, and thunder shake her bed. literally, l'engle writes, "it was a dark and stormy night." can't you feel it? meg wanders downstairs and shares a warm drink and cold sandwich with her mom and brother, who are also kept up by the storm. charles wallace eats something very strange, perhaps liverwurst and cream cheese? (no, i don't think that is unusual enough. tell me if you know, i don't have to book to reference right now.) they enjoy their good conversations and the sound of the storm.

if i were meg, and i had that room, in that house, and on that night, i would make a grilled cheese sandwich, golden brown and slathered in butter (just like my mom used to make), brew a cup of hot tea (with the fine sound of the piping cry of the whistling kettle), perhaps grab a biscuit (shortbread?), and climb those creaky stairs to my solitude. i would snuggle under my favorite quilt, the tattered one sewn with primary colors, and read. later, as i listened to the now quiet storm with my now full belly, i would fall asleep thinking about the words i just read, letting them soak into me.

i also like to wake up early, when the sun is just peeking over the horizon, drink a black cup of strong coffee, and lose myself for a few moments before the day begins. i like to have a kitty next to me. he looks forward to the warming sun and tells me of his happiness with his purrs. i purr back.


i read in a super good magazine article (from oxford american) that there are three voices the reader hears while reading--the author's, the character's, and his own. i find that this is mostly true with me--rarely nonfiction, of course--but i sometimes lose the author's voice in the story. it's hard to hear my voice sometimes in the poetry, too. i often think about these voices while i am reading, and sometimes become cognizant of all three at one time. not in a way that distracts from the words, though.

one of my favorite authors, if not the favorite, is kevin brockmeier. he is native to little rock and still lives here, so i have had the privilege and pleasure of hearing him read on several occasions. each of his written words filters in, almost becoming another part of me. perhaps changing me a little with every word? i tried to express my thoughts and thankfulness to him once, after reading the illumination for the first time. we were in the middle of a crowded mexican restaurant, and tears formed in my eyes. (embarrassing.) i had no way to tell him. i had no voice of my own.

 i always hear his voice when i read his words.

this will sound cliche, but his voice is like dripping honey, cool and syrupy and viscous, stretching out with every word. it has a calming sound and soothes (but does not overly pacify) the audience. he reads with a changing rhythm, a short pause in the perfect moment, and sometimes an uncomfortable long one. i find myself holding my breath for the next word, not wanting my breathing to muffle any part of the experience. he reads with a humility, hiding his power and not allowing his confidence to distract from the words. do you know what i mean, how some authors almost read too loud, and you can get lost in the voice instead of the words? i like hearing his voice, but it never leaves the words behind. sometimes they even linger above my head and fall down like a mist. i like to think that there is something in that mist that changes me.

sometimes a moment unexpectedly reminds me of his words. like in one story when he describes the coolness of a pillow, once it has been turned over from the other side. it makes my face feel cooler to think of it. or the pain of a mouth ulcer that keeps me from talking. it somehow makes the pain less, to know that someone else can describe it.

one of the reasons i love his work so much is that he knows people-in an uncanny way. he is inside the mind of so many different kinds of us, knowing so many different kinds of love, and hurt, and feeling. happiness and sadness, strength and weakness. i can't understand how he can know so much. his characters are so real, it's as if he's embodied each of them.

his settings, his imagination, his execution. connotations, denotations, comparisons. genius. i can't imagine the hours he thought and wrote. and rewrote and thought again. and finished.

please read something by him, and tell me what you think. he has to appeal to a part of everyone. and i think that if we aren't reading him in a hundred years, something went wrong.

i did get a little carried away. i just wanted to tell you how much i like to read.

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