Monday, May 09, 2005

My Newest Latest Favorite Book ...

I don't like everything I read.

I have a lot of respect for writers, authors of books. A book. It's such a big thing to accomplish. The writing, the rewriting, enduring editing. But in the end, when it's published, to be part of the world of published authors ... It's one of my goals in life. A book with my name on the spine.

I love picking a new book. I've never lost that grade-school sensation. Library day was always a big deal for me. I loved the library at my elementary school. There were hot spots: Girls knew right where to head each week to see if they could score a Judy Blume book (across from the librarian's desk) and the National Geographics were by the door leading out to the playground. You could tell which issues had pictures of bare-breasted African women or naked men. They were always well-thumbed.

So each time I pick up a new book, I'm eager to love it. Sometimes, I'm drawn in from the first sentence: The characters beckon and don't let go ("She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb springs to mind). Sometimes, I can't bear to see a book end (if "Memoirs of a Geisha" had a bibliography, I would have read it; anything to not have to come to the endpaper). Sometimes, I'm disappointed, but think that if I read long enough, a book will redeem itself, and by the time I realize that that just won't be the case, I'm often so far along that I can't bear to not finish, but sometimes the notion that by reading the drivel at hand I am wasting time in which I could be reading something else, something I'd really care about, wins out and I close a book, unfinished ("The Fourth K" by Mario Puzo is one such let-down).

A couple months ago, before a business trip, I perused my bookshelves for a book for the plane. Plane books must be paperback, not too thick, trade-size, please. I pulled one off the shelf and read the first page. Then another. Then another. I eventually found the right book.

When I got on the plane, I settled in with my new book and started to read. I was rapt. Amazing writing, some of the best use of simile and metaphor I'd ever envied. Many pages in -- sixty or so, I believe -- I turned the page and thought, "Well, that doesn't make sense." Flipped back. Read. Turned the page. Continued reading. Nope. Made no sense. But maybe the author had something in mind. I read on. Then it happened again. And again. And I realized the pages were in the wrong order.

Can you imagine? The book I was reading was a debut novel. It was a review copy from a publishing house, but it wasn't a galley. It was a finished copy. Can you imagine the horror of your first book hitting the shelves with the pages in the wrong order?

I was sad. It was too hard to flip through the book to find the proper pages, so I put the book away. The rest of the flight was boring.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a new copy of the book, flipping through it in the bookstore to check the turns (end of one page, beginning of the next) to make sure everything flowed. It did. I bought it.

I'm reading it now. Enchanted as I was the day on the plane. "The Tiny One" by Eliza Minot.

1 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

I LOVE Eliza Minot. In 1983, I saw her on Broadway in "Cabaret" and "New York, New York." An evening of total magic, I tell ya.


Jeff

1:10 PM  

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