08 September 2007

the thirteenth tale

"i want a job," i told ksa, "that requires me to do nothing but read books; novels."

on my way home from that conversation, when i began reading diane setterfield's the thirteenth tale, i came across a female protagonist who indeed spent most of her time reading (no matter that her choice of books was somewhat different to mine). even better, her father owned a bookstore. i was hooked. and the book just kept getting better...

"People disappear when they die... Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist... Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved."

"And yet I cannot pretend that the reading I have done in my adult years matches in its impact on my soul the reading I did as a child. I still believe in stories. I still forget myself when I am in the middle of a good book. Yet it is not the same... When I was a child, books were everything. And so there is in me, always, a nostalgic yearning for the lost pleasure of books."

"Our lives are so important to us that we tend to think the story of them begins with our birth. First there was nothing, then I was born... Yet that is not so. Human lives are not pieces of string that can be separated out from a knot of others and laid out straight. Families are webs... A birth is not really a beginning. Our lives at the start are not really our own but only the continuation of someone else's story... In fact, when I was born I was no more than a subplot."

"All morning I struggled with the sensation of stray wisps of one world seeping through the cracks of another. Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes--characters even--caught in the fibers of your clothes..."

"We all have our sorrows, and although the exact delineaments, weight and dimensions of grief are different for everyone, the color of grief is common to us all. "I know," he said, because he was human, and therefore, in a way, he did."

this is a book i want on my bookshelf. i finished it ages ago, and yet the membrane hasn't quite closed. quite unfair to my current book really..!


Zahra said...

i'm adding it to my list :)

md said...

i'm glad. i hope you enjoy it as much as i did :) let me know!