The Transfiguration

everything is sacred

Title of the Day #1759

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I dreamed last night of going to the library in search of Tuck Everlasting. Due to a withered budget, the only catalogue computers were 1980’s IBMs with cracked, green-monochrome monitors. They didn’t have the book, but suggested several abridged and comic versions, and low-resolution illustrations were projected on the screen – a disappointing result to complement the dingy atmosphere.

In waking life, though, the Berkeley Public Library is going strong, keeping pace with the modern world. Inspired by the dream, I strolled through their website and found an ebook of Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 waiting for me, checked it out, and was reading a moment later. It’s a wonderful thing that they have this option, and I think too few people know about it (though I’m 48th in line for a copy of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane).

I’ve read – and loved – several of Murakami’s books before, but I still hesitated before checking out this one. We have such a limited amount of time available, and a massive novel like 1Q84 comes at the opportunity cost of two or three other books. It seems, sometimes, that it would be best to read works by as many different authors as possible, to develop a more multifaceted perspective of the world, skimming the surface of each writer’s mind.

But after starting this new book, sinking into Murakami’s quiet and simple language, his beautiful similes about abstracted thought, his characters walking the thin line between mundane and surreal, I’m reminded of how much you can gain from reading a writer’s collection. Each subsequent book provides a greater understanding of their mental ecology – emotional climate, linguistic topography, character archetypes skittering between stories, filling plot niches. Seeing these patterns gives you a notion of what thoughts occupy an author’s time, and that’s such a fantastic experience.

Choosing between reading from few authors or many is a matter of depth versus breadth, and it’s important to find the right balance. Look for new writers, explore new realms of thought, but when you find a book that resonates with you, look deeper – it’s a beautiful thing to swim through another person’s mind.

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Written by Umbrella Man

July 17, 2013 at 2:42 am

Posted in books and movies

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