For the Love of Reading

Leap over the precipice

before you grow old

and you’ll fall into your childhood;

face up—into the scented grass

-Vasyl Stus

I discovered (fell in love with?) Vasyl Stus last night; I found him in Myrna Kostash’s “Inside the Copper Mountain.” It was a peaceful Friday night spent reading by the fire. It’s so quiet here, especially in the evening. The only sounds to be heard are the crackling of the fire, the creaking of the logs that make up the cabin, the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard and the on and off clicking sound of the fridge motor—always a fridge motor!

Enchanted by the flow of cabin life, I spend my evenings reading. Some nights, I’m traipsing through the slums of 19th century London, other nights I’m standing on a street corner admiring the sights and sounds of San Francisco in the 60’s. I’ve spent a night in an English spike with George Orwell and had breakfast with Ernest Hemingway. I was awed by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s candidness and Norman Mailer’s frankness and came to know Joe DiMaggio and Ty Cobb intimately. It’s been nothing less than fascinating.

An ex-boyfriend of mine had this 4×5 bookshelf in his bathroom. It was jammed packed with paperbacks and hardcovers, from Dickens to Tolkien. The books lined the space next to the toilet–resistance was futile. During the first weeks of seeing him, I’d thought I was dating an intellectual, or at least a decently-read man. I grew up in a reading household. It’s not uncommon for my mother to devour a book a day. My father tended to read the classics, which he’d pass on to me for future discussion. So, naturally I’m attracted to other readers. And here, I’d thought I’d found one. A few weeks in, I proposed a discussion on one of the books, Heart of Darkness. He confessed to not having read it. His confession went further to admit to not having read any of the books. Nor did he have any intention of reading any of the books. A literary maven he was not. I’ll give him ‘clever’ and definitely ‘crafty,’ qualities I do admire just not in a long-term partner. Hence, our relationship never made it to ‘long-term.’

The man I’ll fall for reads his books. He reads for pleasure and for knowledge. He is the one stretched out on his back in the scented grass.

Here is a link to Myrna Kostash’s story:

http://www.ualberta.ca/~ulec/stus/kostash-01.html

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