Friday, 12 August 2011

It Is Called Desperation


I was at the library today. I have a book that I am about half way through, but often the last half of a book reads faster than the first half. I think it is kind of like the last half tank of gas, you can travel a few hundred kilometres on the top half, but then you had best be keeping you eyes open for the nearest station. So, I like to have a book “on deck” as it were.

I have quite a few books at home that I am in the process of reading, but they are easy to put down. They are good enough for a temporary read, but I don’t have a desire to read them at one sitting.

We have a very good library about two blocks from my house. It has thousands of titles, lots of magazines, DVD’s and blue ray, CD’s, reference books and for the last while they are offering e books. So there I was, standing in the middle of the library, more or less spinning in circles. What do I want to read? Mystery, sci-fi, fiction, how to, biography, should I go to the “recommended” shelf?

First I think I will try the recommended shelves. Someone thought enough of these to have taken them out. Now, as I look at the titles I am becoming a little bit suspicious, because I know some of these books are shit! That one wouldn’t even make a good coaster. I think these are the books that people with bad taste took out and returned. The staff just didn’t want to reshelve them! When I mention people that have bad taste, of course I mean people without my taste in literature.

I try the mystery section next, but you know, now that I am here I don’t really feel in the mood for a mystery. They are either too easy or too difficult and I feel stupid after I have read them. Nope, no mystery. I like action books like the Bourne series, but I have read them and although there are other action adventure books they are all mixed up in the general fiction. Searching through all of those books is mind numbing.

Science fiction is always good, but I have read the best and now have to settle with the rest. There are no more Heinlein or Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clark and Ridley Scott to name a few. I hate it when you outlive a favourite author. Ahhh...not today. I just can’t take the chance of another “Dhalgren”.

“Dhalgren” is a book by Samuel R. Delany that nearly turned me off of reading entirely in the early eighties. It had very good reviews and the premise was sort of interesting.  I was somewhat naive in those days and felt that any book that someone spent months or even years writing must have some redeeming qualities. Keeping that in mind I would always finish every book that I started. You can imagine that I wanted to be pretty sure before starting a book.

This book had no redeeming qualities at all. No, that isn’t true, it burnt very well. Once I was finally done with that...that...that...book, I started a fire in the back yard, got a stiff drink and tore page after page from the book and watched it burn. I guess you can say that eventually I got a great deal of enjoyment from that book. I couldn’t take a chance that my baby would eventually learn to read and think to herself “Hmmm, it must be a good book if it is in dad’s library.”

So, here I am, standing in the middle of hundreds of thousands of books and not one that I see fit to read. Perhaps I will finish the book at home and come back to the library in a different frame of mind.

It is called desperation.

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