Monday, May 2, 2016

The Cozy Book Corner No. 6: Sudden Book Love, Part I

Welcome to my Monday 
bookish feature!

In each weekly post, I explore 
my thoughts on several 
book-related topics.

Love at first sight. Who has not experienced it? Who has not felt their breath catch in their throat when first beholding someone who has suddenly, inexplicably, become The Center of the Universe?

The very same thing can happen with a book. It's happened to me on several occasions throughout my life. Whenever it has, I have felt as if suddenly Life had meaning.....I have felt such a blast of "book bliss" that I could hardly contain it, and have actually had to stop myself from running down the street, shouting to everyone within earshot, "Hey!!  You MUST read this book!!" 

It can happen anywhere -- in a bookstore, online, overhearing a restaurant conversation (although not that many people discuss books in restaurants, I think, unless they live in Greenwich Village). Maybe a book catches your eye as you're getting into a crowded elevator or bus, or maybe you see someone totally absorbed, while standing in the subway, and you want to ask them to sit next to you, just so you can find out what they're reading, what's holding their attention so fiercely. Except, sadly, there's no room in the seat next to you. Besides, you feel guilty about interrupting their little corner of Book Nirvana, so you surreptitiously peek at the book cover. If you are able to catch the title, then you pull out your cell phone to get to Amazon (or B&N, or The Book Depository), and then, when you've finally found out just how wonderful the book in question is, you feel as if all the trials and tribulations in your life have suddenly vanished, in the wake of finding such a Wonderful Literary Treasure.

Books can lovingly ensnare us in two ways: either through the cover, or through brief immersion in their prose. And it's sheer bliss when a book actually combines the two! This doesn't happen that often, though, at least, not for me. Ah, but when it does.....I can actually get high. And float on clouds 9, 10, 11 or whatever other numbers there are! Book highs, when they hit you, are the most wonderful  highs in the world, right along with art and music highs!!

Well, just yesterday, I fell in love with a book I saw on Goodreads. Just like that. Actually, it wasn't really the book itself that caught my eye, but a quote from it. This quote gave me goosebumps when I read it -- the kind you get not when you're scared half out of your mind, but the good kind, the ones you get when something really resonates with your inner being. I read it over, three times, savoring it carefully the last two times.

Here's the quote:

“Some of us are fated to live in a box from which there is only temporary release. We of the damned-up spirits, of the thwarted feelings, of the blocked hearts, and the pent-up thoughts, we who long to blast out, flood forth in a torrent of rage or joy or even madness, but there is nowhere for us to go, nowhere in the world because no one will have us as we are, and there is nothing to do except to embrace the secret pleasures of our sublimations, the arc of a sentence, the kiss of a rhyme, the image that forms on paper or canvas, the inner cantata, the cloistered embroidery, the dark and dreaming needlepoint from hell or heaven or purgatory or none of those three, but there must be some sound and fury from us, some clashing cymbals in the void.”

This quote is an absolute jewel. Some readers might not like it because of the very long second sentence, but I totally disagree with them. The sentence is as long as it is on purpose; it has a flow, a rhythm to it, and this flow, this rhythm, just builds and builds in its intensity, until it becomes a passionate lament, a heart-felt plea for justice, for fairness, as well as an urgent call to be and express oneself, no matter how, to bring to birth everything that's bottled up inside, that's bursting at the seams to come into the world. It's also an urgent call to experience Life to the fullest, in each artistic gesture, each inner creation, each fleeting, precious, living second. It is the cry of an artist, seeking self-expression, yet, thwarted by the limits imposed by the circumstances surrounding her, by the indifference of her fellow humans.

When I first read this passage, I literally froze, even as I continued to read. Every word, every vivid word picture, pierced my heart, lifted it, and gave it wings. This is an author who KNOWS, who has fully experienced the things she writes about. This is an author who knows the silent tears in the night.....

Her name is Siri Hustvedt, and I have never heard of her before. This quote is taken from a book published in 2011, and titled The Summer Without Men. The plot is rather sad, so it's fitting that the quote above should rail against the injustices of life, the illusion of total freedom we humans love to wallow in. This book sounds like it has an existentialist undercurrent to it. According to the synopsis, however, there's a note of hope in the female protagonist's life.

I need to read this book. I need to buy this book and devour it as soon as possible. No further explanations are necessary. When a writer can touch a reader as this woman has, with just one quote, that writer's work is to be sought out and speedily ingested, and then, savored more slowly a second, and then a third, and perhaps a fourth, time. Or perhaps, and even better, as one reads, one should pause when encountering passages of such incandescent beauty, and savor them several times, if only to remember how heavy, and yet, how beautiful, is the burden of being a sensitive, creative human in this shallow, imprisoning world.

I have more to say on this subject, so I will return with more ponderings next week. Meanwhile, I'm rushing over to The Book Depository to order this book! It has to be this edition, too, which I'm ordering from TBD. I prefer this cover to the one of the edition being sold on Amazon.


What are your thoughts 
on this subject?
Have you ever fallen in love
with a book at first sight?
What drew you in?


Brian Joseph said...

I really like that quote too. I agree with you about the second sentence. Though it is long it works and does not seem excessive. It is elegantly written.

It is interesting that you mention catching glimpses of books people are reading. I am a "book busybody" :) As soon as I see someone reading a book I am struck with insatiable curiosity as to what it is and I feel an compulsion to peek.

I tend to talk about books a lot and I do often talk about books in restaurants with both my wife and friends. When I am with my friends the subject is often science fiction books.

Maria Behar said...

Hey, Brian!

Yes, this is a WONDERFUL quote! And I'm glad you agree about the second sentence; it is indeed beautiful!

Oh, you put that in a very funny way! "A book busybody"! Lol. Well, I've tried to cure myself of this habit, as I don't want to disturb people who are actually reading. However, if they happen to put the book down for one second....I pounce! I then ask them what they're reading. This is very surprising to me, too, because I'm basically a shy person. But when I see somebody reading a book in public, my curiosity becomes totally engaged, which is just what happens to you. Then I try to overcome my shyness in order to find out what book they're reading.

Oh, it would be SO nice to discuss books in a restaurant.....unfortunately, I don't have anyone around me who would be willing to do so. My husband is not into books, and I don't have any "real-life" friends.... That's why blogging is such a rewarding experience for me; I do get to discuss books online, at least!

Thanks so much for the nice comment!! :)