Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Word Magic

I am continually amazed at how skilled writers can use a collection of words so effectively as to transport us, make us emote, ponder, wish. I read this line today in "The Book of Negroes" by Canadian author Lawrence Hill:
"To gaze into a person's face is to do two things: to recognize their humanity, and to assert your own." And there I was, off on a mental tangent, distracted from the words that followed wondering what that meant, what sense that makes in my life.
I've read fabulous books that have made me look at my surroundings as if with a fine-toothed comb, slowly evaluating an item, a feeling, a room and trying to come up with my own velvety descriptions for the ongoing mental novel in my life, penned fictionally in my mind.
It is almost overwhelming for me to go into a book store like Chapters and choose only a few books. I curiously tilt my head to the right to read titles and authors on book spines, my mind chaotic when confronted with the task of selection. It is no wonder I often come out with four or five, convinced each one is a justifiable purchase, though the sum of them may not be to my husband.
When in Ross River, I can peruse thematic book lists and recommendations online, read reviews and electronic book jackets before arriving at a decision.
I think heaven for me would be the leisure of walking into a quaint bookshop, whose wood shelves are strangely rearranged with new titles after I dismiss others and turn around again. I carry a never-ending cup of chai latte, with a kick of vanilla, so that I may sip and taste comfort while looking around. I would be wearing a stylish-cozy hybrid of a jacket, and the cool air would not have done any drying damage to my hair, which is remarkably spit-up free. I would find a book that looks interesting, a biopic or a memoir set in the Louisiana bayou or the Greenwich village. I could hide in a comfy chair, put my feet up and immerse myself in the coming-of-age story, place myself in the character's shoes when faced with the moral dilemma, feel empowered and enlightened by the author's brilliant combination of words and imagery. Since it is heaven I would not need to take breaks, but I could choose to switch my surrounding from bookstore to bubble bath and back again. Then, like magic, I would take a deep breath, reshelve the book, and walk around a park thinking over the plot, the messages, the metaphors.
I may not live in heaven on earth, but when Abby is asleep and a summer breeze too cool to read outside blows in, I can curl up on my couch with a chai tea, read a chapter or two of my book, and then leisurely get up and plan dinner.

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