Something about books, times, and places

April 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Whenever I feel lonely, I turn to books.

I treat books like people; you meet them in times and places. Let me tell you a story about this Tom Robbins book I read.

It was a very rough time in my life when I met Still Life With Woodpecker. I started reading it briefly way, way back. My then girlfriend would prescribe to me a block quote or two from the said book every time we’d have existential indifferences, and I’d be tired and respond with “Yeah, I’ll read it soon,” but I never did. I was too stubborn back then. I admit. If you’re reading this, ex-girlfriend, yes, I’m admitting to my faults as a stubborn, insecure kid when we were together. Sorry.

So Still Life With Woodpecker and I were introduced as acquaintances for the longest time. Finally, in one of my last weeks in school I spotted a worn-out copy in the book sale. I grabbed it with no hesitation and showed my ex. Ironically, a friend of ours lost her copy and she was asking if she could buy it from me… But the packaging was too awesome – the cover was  patterned from a pack of Camel cigarettes, maintaining it to be an important motif in the story. I refused, and started reading.

“If this typewriter can’t do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done.” Those were the first words of Tom Robbins. He came off strong from the beginning and I enjoyed reading his references to Camus, suicide, and the Moon. You know what? I’ll save my commentaries about the book for a review, or something. I’ll just show and tell how my relationship with Still Life grew.

A very strange time in my life came; missed opportunities and evil circumstances led to my imprisonment one night. To describe the scenario as lightly as I could: I got locked out of someone’s apartment, and I couldn’t get out because the building was locked from the inside but there were no guards at 1:30 in the morning. I camped out and sat right in front of the doorstep, and started reading. I read Still Life With Woodpecker in all of its Outlaw glory like the bible. I believed in everything that Bernard Mickey Wrangle said about freedom, and the difference between criminals and Outlaws. I was an Outlaw.

The book Still Life With Woodpecker was like a person to me; he came in handy when I needed survival tips in this mean, mean world. It seemed like the 20th century’s Fight Club with more cultural references, and of course I enjoyed it the way I enjoy the nineties. The book’s approach was quite fitting for me, as one of my favorite quotes from the book said: “As long as every wall is threatened, the world can happen.” Imagine reading that line in the middle of an existential concentration camp. Imagine reading that line in front of the devil. It felt so good to be in the company of the Woodpecker.

Every time I’m in a bookstore, I always think of how much energy an author puts into writing a novel. Tonight I saw a great deal of Stephen King’s books lined up in one shelf. I couldn’t imagine how much imagination he has. On top of all of this, it amazes me how much of himself or herself the writer gambles in every story. I think that’s what makes books into people that you can meet in different times and places.

And I think that’s what makes us people less lonely every time we read when everyone’s asleep.

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