If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

Chris Brignola


‘The things that the novel does not say are necessarily more numerous than those it does say, and only a special halo around what is written can give the illusion that you are reading also what is not written.

Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller

It is true that what is not said also holds its own significance. Each visitor that stops to tell me something is offering me a tiny glittering chip from their reading life, and it is of no small value.

When Lyle left today he said that the reason he is reading Catcher in the Rye is to calibrate himself and see that all is running to reason.

I was informed that Wilbur Smith is getting too old to write properly.

A young woman said to me, ‘I want to write a book. The trouble is that I have nothing to write about.’ I said that nearly everybody feels this, so maybe just write about what you think and feel about your life so far.

She answered that so far it had not been that good.

Someone told me that they will die reading. So it had better be with somebody good. Like Umberto Eco.

I was asked for: I am Malala, An Atlas History of Australian Shipwrecks, Hunting with Eagles, Oceans of Nectar and The Red Tent.

All day, though I am still, I am not still. The landscape of every book described intrudes into my mind and I think about it.

‘I want that book where you can put the whole ocean in a bucket and carry it. In that bucket, the whole sea is there, but the bucket is not as heavy as you think. It’s by Neil Gaiman.’

‘There was this magic elf that had a flute made out of glass, and you could see inside it at the music and that. In the book it broke, and there was no other one. Do you have that book?’

‘Linwood Barcley, he wrote a book where there was a child who wakes up and goes downstairs, and her family, everyone had just disappeared….so shocking…imagine something like this happening for real. Every other book here is nothing compared to it. All other books are just the same as each other after you read this book.’

‘The Dark Road to Darjeeling is the best book you will ever read.’

‘Un Lun Dun is the best book you will ever read.’

‘The Wind in the Willows is the best book you will ever read.’

‘I’m going home now to have a cold beer and this here Lee Child. I’m pretty pleased.’

A lady said to me that her son re reads everything instead of reading new things. She said, ‘Do you think it’s ok? Why do they read things over and over? Don’t they get it all the first time…….?’


Photography by Chris Brignola


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