Wednesday 6 May 2015

Time Enough at Last

“Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock. But in just a moment, Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He'll have a world all to himself...without anyone.”

This is how my favourite Twilight Zone episode begins. I suppose that it’s my favourite because I can see myself as Henry Bemis. I’m not hen pecked or put upon by a boss and I have all the time in the world, but I sympathize with Mr. Bemis. I too love to read and all too often there isn’t enough time to read.

I have read my share of books that don’t capture the imagination; in fact some of those books are against having an imagination at all. They are called text books and although they are informative they can often be pretty boring. The job of a text book is to impart knowledge and text books list fact after fact after fact. Students need to absorb those facts without being creative so that in time, if they are very intelligent, they can add to the facts in the book. It is so necessary and so ho-hum to me.

Give me fiction. Generally I don’t care if it makes a lot of sense; I have the ability to suspend belief in favour of a good plot. Sometimes these books push at the boundaries of my belief and the odd time I have tossed the book down in disgust thinking about how the author could have improved his or her book. There are very few books of fiction that I don’t like. Okay, I hate those plodding, overly descriptive works of “literature” that are fine examples of well written books. That kind of book is basically a literature textbook and it sets a high standard for all fiction.

I don’t like to be tested when I am trying to enjoy a story. I like to be carried away by the story. If I am lucky, I will become a part of the story and the Ken in this world, this time, ceases to exist. Well, he ceases to exist until he needs to get something to drink, answer the phone or has to pee. After the interruption if I am lucky, I can fall back into the story and walk with Bilbo, Samwise and Gollum into Mordor and certain death.

The best books overrule everything in this life. I begrudge having to make supper, I begrudge taking the dog for a walk, I begrudge talking to friends and family, I just want to be swept away. I can’t seem to read the book fast enough. Yet, I do read it much too fast. Before I am aware what has transpired, there are just a few pages left and I put the book down to prolong my read. The endings are always the most exciting part. I can’t leave it down for long, but towards the end of a good book I will just read a page or two and then I will walk away wondering just how it will end and who is responsible. When I can stand it no longer, I pick up the book and read to find out if I was correct.

When a good book ends, something leaves you. It is almost like what I imagine having my soul leave my body when I die, an emptiness, a hollow spot that just a moment before was full. A sadness of what might have been and what should have been.
This is why I am reading more series books. When you finish the first book there are hopefully twenty or so more to be read. With enough of these series it will be possible to happily read until I die, lost in worlds of my imagination. Just as long as I have time enough to finish each series. That will be the perfect death.

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