One Word After Another

One Word After Another

Yesterday I had a very quiet day. I read all day. I got lost in Donal Ryan's, "Then queen of Dirt Island." I have these days sometimes, whole days given over to a novel. Lost in a story. And on those days I am not good for anything else.

It is like I leave one life and enter another. It is as if the characters were relatives or good friends. Yesterday I would put the book down thinking that's enough for today. I would go make a cup of tea, or eat an apple. Reading sometimes makes me hungry. Then I would check my phone and play with it for five minutes. And then I'd be idle. Not sure what to do with myself so I'd pick up the book again.

And I'd slump down in a chair read for half an hour and then lay the book on my chest and carry the characters onto my dreams as I slept for fifteen minutes. Then I would get up and do the same again. Today I am still thinking about these characters, that writer, the other books of his I have read. All of them good, with a certain sadness about them. 

The lost in a book only happens a few times a year. Mostly I read in bit and pieces  though I do often nap with my books in the afternoon. Every once in a while I surrender to a story and let my day get carried away by someone else's narrative. It is enchanting to be carried off to some place with people I will never know but somehow remind me of people I do. The book I was reading yesterday was set in rural Ireland, the characters and the language, and the values were ones I grew up with in Newfoundland. I was comforted because the author was able to bring me back to the language I grew up. 

I am glad that people write novels. That they watch the world around them and create characters and voices, and put them in places that feel as real as the places we actually live in. I am glad they bother following that character around in their heads right onto the page one word at a time. I have read so many and each one makes me reflect on human nature and how we are with each other. That never feels like a waste of time to me. It feels more like a study of who we are and how we get on with each other.

When I lose a day to a book it never feels like a lost day, more like a retreat or a travel day. A day that you need to get somewhere, or a rest from your normal routine. One where you step out of your life and into the life of another. It will be a while before I fall freely into a book again. I does not happen easily or often and it takes some level of surrender from me. I have to be ready to let go. Quiet Saturdays are good for this. The errands and the shopping were done, and I set off for a story that was not my own but still resonated with me.

I read I think to peer more deeply into the lives of others. To try to understand love and human connection. This is what I seek out in a book, our domesticity and how it often settles the wildness in our hearts. Novels comfort me, and carry me away, but the also carry me back to myself the same way making a rug does. They both quiet me, slow me down and make me more reflective because I have taken time with them. So much beauty, so much for our souls to hold.


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  • Deanne Fitzpatrick
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