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18 augustus 2005

Books & Trains

...jumping my own train

I have read two books in the last 48 hours.

I never thought I'd say that again in my life.

The last time I'd done something like this was on a vacation Allen and I took in 1994. We went to St. Thomas. Allen had won the trip playing a phone-in version of the Scrabble TV Gameshow. Ironically, it was on the Family Channel. Yes, folks, Pat Robertson had sent a gay couple to St. Thomas for a week, all expenses (including airfare) paid! We had taken three suitcases: one for him, one for me, one for books. I read eight books in 'six days seven nights'.

The reason for the reads? The taking of a train! (A lot of alliteration for a literary allurement, no?)

Now that Frank is no longer making the daily trip to the Mothership (sound the chime of gratuitous rhyme!) I am taking CalTrain baby-bullet trains to the South Bay. It saves on gas, it saves on the expense of gas ($92.50/month for the train vs approximately $70/week), and I get a couple of hours each day of me-time. I've spent the last two commutes reading.

First was Necklace of Kisses, as I mentioned in the last entry, and then was “Ethan Frome (Enriched Classics)” (Edith Wharton). Technically, I had to read the last 10 pages of it when I got home, but Sam insisted. You see, he'd had to read it for a class last semester, and we had the movie adaptation of it from Netflix. I had wanted a “date night” with Sam, and he set it all up: he cooked, bought me flowers and chose a bottle of wine that he knew I liked.

So we watched the movie together, cuddled up on the sofa under a too-heavy comforter.

The movie was well-acted, but the adaptation was one of the worst I've seen (that said, Demi changing the end of The Scarlet Letter to a happy one is, by far, the worst).

Ethan Frome is a painfully well-written novella. Knowing up front that things don't end well doesn't stop you from wishing with every paragraph that it will be other than you already know it to be, and the more pages you read, the less chance that the fewer remaining pages will produce an unexpected happiness. That makes for an intimate dread! It's been a long time since I have been affected so deeply, personally by a book.

Well, except for the day before, with the Weetzie Bat book. But even that was an abstract idealistic, ethereal reaction rather than unavoidably having to endure the cold, wet, loneliness of Ethan Frome and Mattie Silver.

It feels like I'm finding that bit of daylight back into the world I want to be in. Not a nose buried in books, but rather a life lived with memories and sensations and imaginings that are motile, accessible, vibrant. An arable life, I've called it in the past.

I know from Sam and from Mikey and from my own distant-past experience that reading compulsorily does not bring with it the same joy as reading by choice, but I do now have the luxury again of having the space and time to read and to get back into my own headspace.

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Posted by jeff at 18 augustus 2005 13:48

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Perhaps I'm going insane (a la John Nash Jr, but sans the genius), but sometimes I think I see codes in your writing. Even in the tags you use. And as a result, sometimes I feel like I know more than I know I actually do.


Posted by: Josh at 19 augustus 2005 8:42

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