David came into the shop this morning and confessed that he is barely surviving his reading group:
“I have to tell you that I barely surviving it. I like if of course but I am really not even sure about that. There is such a frantic race to share our information, but….I am not sure if….we are allowing the books to do their job when we are forever….pecking out themes and plots and opinions…how can a book do its job if we are firing such a barrage of ammunition at it, we don’t let it anywhere near us really…”
“Oh God, what am I saying? Do you have any Herman Hesse? Or Lilly Brett? God, I need Lilly Brett to get me through the reading group.”
Later, after David had gone, a lady said this: “Frank McCourt is my favourite book, Angela’s Ashes, oh my darling, oh my heart, I can’t tell you, it made me so happy, I just love him.”
This lady leaned back and closed her eyes and said again: “I can’t tell you, it just makes me smile it was such a splendid book but I cannot tell you why. Every night we are in bed early you know, both of us dying to get at the books. Isn’t that a disaster! I had a list but I’ve lost it, I’ll just ask my husband, he’s outside minding the dog.”
And he was outside, looking through the window at his wife and tapping the glass toward the biographies. He was also minding the dog, which was called Butter. They all three of them seemed incredibly happy. Later, they went back across the road hand in hand carrying The Uncommon Reader and The Life of Pi and she was reading from the back covers out loud to her husband.
All reading, when we allow it, adds to our survival value. All readers are gradually accumulating imperishable resources with which to transcend our wear and tear. This wear and tear unites us all.
Geoffrey was reading aloud to himself from his volume of Catalina by Somerset Maugham which he had just purchased. This caused him to run into the door and he said: “bother YOU Somerset Maugham, your last book has just caused me a head injury.”
Late in the day, Mr Reedy sat reading Hiawatha near the heater and then he came to show me a book he carried around and was very much enjoying: Positive Education: A Victorian Context .He showed me many of the photographs and read pieces of the text to me.
He said that when he attended to Geelong Grammar School he had the most miserable time. And he, a mere clergyman’s son, was no match for the elite hoards of THAT day and he suffered for it. And so he discovered reading. And when he became a master at one of the Melbourne Grammar schools, he had another miserable time. Well, thank God for reading.
“And that music master back then was a tyrant, a rogue and rotten to the socks. But now…look at it now, look at way education has changed, it’s marvellous. Look at this book, I’ve never read the like. Things have changed and it is for the better! The only thing they had right back then was giving us Rudyard Kipling.”
Ashley, who is 12, said that she can pick which book she wants to read next just by looking through the window each day. Then she goes to the library and gets that book. She said that I could change the books in the window more often.
Leah asked me how I was going with The Stone Diaries.
It is a quiet day so I shall begin The Stone Diaries and then change the books in the front window.