book report

January 27, 2017

in blowg, vapors

(originally published in Pages Per Content)

You get excited when you see someone reading a book you loved. Not your favorite, but it was loved. Without even realizing why, you want to kiss this person. This person could be your best friend or someone in your class or a stranger in the park. You’re attracted to them because of how this person thinks. You think, a book is an idea or a cluster of ideas anyway, a whole idea made up of tiny, little ideas, and this person is reading, putting that idea galaxy in their head so it can exist just like the author intended, just like it exists in yours.

Except not. This person, maybe they read the book wrong. Maybe they skipped the passages you read three times. Maybe they underlined a few of the same sentences you did, but you can’t recall them anymore. So whatever it is, there is a disconnect, there is fuzzy reception, they don’t get it. They don’t love the book, not like you did. They say, it’s OK. And they mean it. Maybe they don’t like the book at all.

You get hurt when you see someone disliking something that shaped you, something that put an idea into you. But you can’t say why. You can’t see it as not being an attack against you somehow. Because now maybe this book was an integral part of you. You mimeographed its ink into neurons that burst with electrical fire whenever you called upon them.

Then you could see the words, invisible, floating in front of you, through you, piercing you, stigmata-style. You could conjure up ghosts. You could rewrite entire bookshelves, mentally, just to feel how the words felt when strung together.

Except not. Maybe you don’t really remember the words entirely-exactly-precisely how they were. You resolve to read the book again. You say, gimme that and hug the book close to your chest and run with it, far, far away. Perhaps to a cave or a motel room in the desert. Here, you will show this book love again. Only when you read it, it doesn’t conjure ghosts. It feels dead, but not haunting, which is somehow worse than haunting. The scenes that made you cry make you yawn, but you try to stifle it. The words are musty, pulpy blobs that were shoved here, possibly by weevils building a nest. They are not the words you once knew.

You get elated when you see the person again and give them back their book, which you unkindly stole. You shrug. They shrug. And then maybe you go to a yogurt shop or watch a movie or make love or never speak again or just go to sleep. In your dreams, you enter a library. All the shelves are full, but when you turn a certain way, the books lift up and fly out the window. You chase after the loose paper, but it is a mist. You can’t even feel it when you touch the sharp edges, despite the bleeding paper cuts ringed around your hands. Soon the library is completely empty. So you decide to sit in the middle of the room, eat a bowl of cereal using curdled milk and dustpan dirt, and wait for the pages to come back home to roost.

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