Inspired by the excitement of finding a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island many years after I read it the first time– poetry, puns and all.
I want you to take away:
the competitions and prizes, the slightly anxiety-inducing joke-predictions about pulitzers, this cutthroat universe littered with the dying, dying, dead literary ambitions of millions, and the chasing– of paper, publishers, agents.
And the time, so that I’m back to being 12 again, grocery shopping with the mother, which for me meant hiding away at the books section of the supermarket, an isle of heaven (haha) in an ocean of more functional things for sale, with mostly second hand books from American and British shores–
1. yes, maybe it was “problematic”.
2. yes, maybe someone should have said to me explicitly/ that there existed entire worlds of beauty/ outside of the blonde hair and blue eyes/ and perfect size 6 bodies/ (of the Wakefield twins.)
3. But I was 12, and things were different then and I couldn’t care./ words were still perfectly buoyant, like helium balloons in the air, / with none of the weight of history/ or political propriety.
If I were 12 I would be devouring what sentences I could– off back page summaries and first and final chapters and random middle pages– while counting down the minutes till Mother finished shopping.
(as a side– does anyone actually call their mother “Mother”? You know, except for the painfully formal English? Do the English even call their mothers “Mother”? is that just a thing in the movies? English readers out there or people with some actual knowledge of England– your answers appreciated.)
Mother is walking down aisles of flour and bread and rice and cereal.
I’m Alice in Books First Wonderland falling past shelves of treasure.
And I’m aware of this wonderful fact: if I were to start to read now and keep reading and keep reading, I could spend an eternity doing this and never ever finish.
If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.