Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Right Attitude to Read




After packing and cataloging books all day, I settled in for a good read. Alexander McCall Smith's The Right Attitude to Rain, was calling to me in the pile of unread books. It's a lovely first edition slated to be signed by Himself, but alas, I came down with the flu that day.

Alexander (aka Sandy), and I had corresponded via Twitter, he was writing pithy 140 character short stories on Twitter. No mean feat. Very spare prose. 

So with gusto, I sat down to read his descriptions of things most ordinary and plain, made beautiful by his prose, it made me weak at the knees. I swooned seeing Edinburgh depicted through his lens. But I found that I was also too tired to read, so I grocked the book and tented it over my face, making for a good sunscreen. Perhaps if I read it with the write attitude, it might rain.

Most people are familiar with Sandy's No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, set in Botswana, and also a BBC mini series. If you haven't read his Portuguese Irregular Verbs, well, then, you're in for a real treat. I reread it every few years. But I refuse to finish the book because I enjoy it so much and I don't want the story to end. Most irregular, I know.

Why, in this digital age, is it so painful to part with books? Old friends, the ones I've read more than once, are the hardest to let go of. Such fond memories. And the marginalia! I feel like Proust in Swann's Way. Bring me some madelines and bring me some wine, as I sort books, using the Dewy Decimal System, but it's all written in Morse code.

I make parings of books like fine wine and cheese. Ah, but the sharp scent of old books, part dust, part mold, burnt paper and still redolent of printer's ink. (Probably all that lead...)

So many books to divest, my love of books has threatened to overtake me and I'm downsizing and needs must rid myself of them all. But I can't bear to do it. So I'm starting with the pulp fiction and working my way back to what matters most. Blue Shoes of Happiness, on the unread pile...I'm saving it for the dark time that is coming.

Now, if only I had a house....or some walls.

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