Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Blame Tess

For as long as I can recall being alive [which is quite a while, and sometimes feels like an entire lifetime] I have loved reading.
And books.
I differentiate between those two words -- reading, and books.
They are related, but distinct, loves.
Many people involve themselves in the act of reading -- but do not have a proper lust for books.
Others acquire books, and never read them.
A while back now, a good friend bought a mansion and asked me if I knew where he could purchase a pile of classic-type books so that it would lend his estate the appearance of being owned by a connoisseur of literature.
Many people don't have the time to read the stuff, but want it around.

I am rather hard-core about both reading and books. I make time and expend energy and money, for both. I would feel my life to be just this side of not-worth-living if I became too busy to pursue my "leisure" reading.
Tonight I am wondering though -- how much of this passion is innate?

Recently, a co-worker asked me when it was that I realized I could not live a happy life without a book in front of me. And the truth is -- I had to realize that in my case, the passion for reading was pretty much always there.
When I was a kid -- basically as soon as I learned what printed words were trying to do -- I was fascinated by their power. My discovery of typeface was like seeing God.
Immediately, when I understood the concept of what a typewriter could accomplish, I began typing recipe cards for my mother. Even before I could read what I was typing, I was typing -- identifying each individual printed letter with the key on dad's ancient Olivetti.
In Grade 2 of elementary school my mother showed my teacher a listing of books I had read that year, and Mrs. Okrainetz [she rode to school on a broom] did not believe I was telling the truth. I devoured the works of Enid Blyton, and even several volumes of non-fiction. I recall crying in a store [I could not have been more than nine or ten years old] until my mother bought me The Gulag Archipelago.
And yet -- even though I always was a reader -- I point to a time in college, when I had some free time after exams were over. I wandered in a Mall and picked up a discount copy of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy.
As I sat in my dorm-room and devoured that book, something went crazy inside of me, and I knew that I would never be the same. I had reached some sort of higher level of addiction.
Unending, incurable and insatiable.
And so this is how I answered my co-worker. I blamed Hardy.
I blame Tess.



Melwyk said...

Crying until you got yourself a copy of The Gulag Archipelago... classic! LOL

I did so love Tess. Thomas Hardy is still one of my special authors. And this line...I loved it... "My discovery of typeface was like seeing God" You do realize you are sounding more and more like you are in the midst of writing a marvellous novel?

One more question...did Mrs. Okrainetz ride her broom up to my elementary school library as well? Yikes, that sounded familiar.

Anonymous said...

Cipriano, I couldn't agree more with Melwyk. You have enough vignettes in this collection of blogs alone - how many have you done to date? - to comprise several books. You just need a good agent to hawk it for you.

I have followed you daily since you began this blog and never have I been disappointed with what I find posted here or on your poetrypuddle be talented in both genres is rather remarkable.

I feel that you do not post for money or fame, of course, yet still how lovely it would be to see it all bound together somehow.

The plot line never matters as much to me as the reflection found behind it. I feel that you are gifted with a way of seeing.

And on this St. Valentine's Day, may I say that is a very special gift to give your readers. May the gift return to you manyfold.

Cipriano said...

Melwyk -- Hah! I wish I was writing a novel, but [alas] I am not.
And yes, I saw on more than one occasion Mrs. Okrainetz zooming up the stairs, cackling like a banshee!

Anonymous -- thank you for these kind and thoughtful words. My blogging has waned as of late I'm afraid -- I seem to have lost my blog-mojo a bit -- but I appreciate your nice words to me and for hanging around here for so long.... since the beginning, you say.
I now have over 2,500 postings on Bookpuddle alone.
Your thoughts are a wonderful Valentine gift -- thank you.