A Book with a History

The book is green with golden letters, cloth bound. Sunlight faded the spine into autumnal yellow so that you can no longer make out the title and the author very well. When you open it, the yellowed pages rustle, feeling slightly stiff to the fingers. The title page is followed by the picture of the author printed on smooth, glossy paper that contrasts with the coarser pages that follow it. I turn the pages and think: they don’t make books like this anymore.

And then there’s the way it smells. The smell of decades which lingers on  your fingers even after you put the book down.

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Quote of the Week: There’s Always Room for a Book

Henry David Thoreau
(1817-1862)

There is always room and occasion enough for a true book on any subject; as there is room for more light the brightest day and more rays will not interfere with the first.

(Henry David Thoreau: A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers)

The Book Vargas Llosa Dares Not Re-Read

Picking up where I left off on Monday night… that is, the problem of re-reading books.

The Dangers of Re-Reading
Or
The Book Vargas Llosa Dares Not Re-Read

A few days ago on Zenda Libros I read the transcript of a group interview with three authors: Mario Vargas Llosa, Arturo Pérez-Reverte and Javier Marías. One of these I’d follow to hell, another won the Nobel Prize and the third one is still on my to be read pile.

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I Read Therefore I Write

Herodotus wrote because he wanted to record the events of the recent past so that great deeds would not be forgotten. The Spanish conquistador, Bernal Díaz del Castillo wrote because he was annoyed by what somebody else wrote about men he knew and fought with. García Lorca wrote because poetry bubbled up and out of him, like water from a fountain on some sun-drenched Plaza Mayor… and Hemingway, you suspect, wrote at least in part because through writing he could live the lives of men whose manliness, courage or sheer bloody-mindedness he admired.

P. G. Wodehouse wrote because it was better than working in a bank. (I’m all with him on that one.)

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Tolstoy, Mario Vargas Llosa, My Grandmother and Me (On War & Peace)

In my experience, no one likes Tolstoy. Not ordinary people, at any rate. Some people like Dostoyevsky, and the rest daren’t confess to never having read Crime and Punishment. But Tolstoy, like Homer, is a persona non grata at the average middle class dinner table. If you like Tolstoy or Homer, you’re in the category of a weirdo, or, if you live in England, where they pride themselves on their tolerance, you’re an eccentric.

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