|For my next trick, a paperclip Burning Man.|
For every nine hours I’m within these concrete walls, I spend a mere two on work related activities. Chained to my desk with sheer boredom and with very little around me to break it (they turned off my internet after one too many Facebook sessions), I started bringing books with me in the morning. My bookmark, an old Nolan Ryan baseball card with no value, is steadily moving. Moving from the inside cover in the morning, to the half way point by the time the day is over and it’s time for me to hop in my car and hit the eastbound freeway.
Having recently counted over thirty books that I have whipped through in this year alone, I decided to keep track of how many I actually read in a work week. As of now, I average at least three completed from Monday morning to Saturday, end of day. As little as five months ago, I wouldn’t have believed I’d be going at this rate. The thought of it makes me chuckle to myself sometimes. Before I started making good use of my down time at work, I would normally lie down on my pillow-top mattress, reach above my head to the wall mounted bookshelf, grab my current literary endeavor, and knock out a few chapters before my eyelids would turn to lead and give way to gravity.
I am baffled by the increments of page numbers I periodically glance down at. 3, 18, 31, 58, 74, 113… the stack of pages in my right hand becoming more and more light and flimsy with each passing hour. Because of that, I've decided to up the ante, as they say. Right now I am working on two books simultaneously, A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess and Women by Charles Bukowski. Women is a new book to me, written by an author I’ve come to be a big fan of, but Burgess’ Orange is another story (No pun intended. ...You know what? Fuck that. Pun intended).
Back in my early high school days, I picked this book up at the public library located next door to my school and decided to give it a try. I saw the movie version by Stanley Kubrick not long before and it was so messed up, I needed to experience its origin for myself. For those of you that have not done the same, you're in for a curveball. With an original copyright of 1961 and an author from Great Britain, the language used in it is probably not what you are used to, I sure as hell wasn’t. It was a far cry from the S.E. Hinton books I had grown up reading.
Page after confusing page, the only thing that helped me understand what I was reading was remembering the scenes from its movie counterpart. My eyes would scan across something sounding familiar, make the connection from that specific moment in the movie, and I would then find my way back to the story. It felt like getting up at 2a.m. and navigating through the dark abyss of my hallway, feeling my way to the bathroom by remembering the route I would take when the sun was up. Being only 16 and having a very novice understanding of The Written Word, I threw in the towel and returned the book to the library.
This time around, the experience is very different. Knowing what I was in for, I approached it a different way. To me, the first chapter or two were the primer for the rest of the book. I paid attention to the odd British slang terms and the context in which they were used. Through reasoning and having now been tempered with much more complex authors, I was able to translate them and memorize them. “Eyes” became “Glazzies”, “Good, Well or Top Notch” became “Horrorshow”, “Clothing” became “Platties” and so on. Now that I am versed in the ways of what I now know as the slang of "Nadsat", I’m halfway through the book and I can confidently say that it is a brilliant piece of work and I cannot wait to feel the satisfaction of finishing that last page and tossing the book face down onto my desk.
Back when I was chipping away at novels, two chapters every other night, I saw reading as a relaxing hobby to have. A way for me to wind down from a long day and a way to put me asleep. Now, the pleasure of reading a book has become exactly that: a pleasure. At the great risk of sounding cliché, I love how I lose myself in the story I'm reading, after I gain momentum. Whatever is happening around me, good or bad, falls away. Then soon I find myself becoming a silent observer, standing in a world that is eloquently being laid out for me by a person that I have never met.
Going beyond that, there's an aspect of some fiction novels that have given an edge to the bliss I experience. It’s the act of creating a world much like ours, only slightly askew. One of my favorite authors, Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Choke, Rant) has perfected doing just that. He creates a parallel universe where cars don’t exist or no one has jobs, or maybe there's a nameless vagrant walking around the country with the ability to resurrect road kill that’s been splattered across the freeway. I'm not completely sure why that makes the story more enjoyable to me. I think it’s because it makes the story more interesting to follow and become a part of, as opposed to sitting at my desk, but still real enough to not have the constant reminder that I’m simply…. sitting at my desk. This is probably why I never got into science fiction or fantasy novels; it’s too unbelievable of a story for me to be able to immerse myself in. Except for those god damned Harry Potter books, those are just plain annoying.
If the Amazon.com book department opened a night club, I’d be given a VIP pass tomorrow. But now that I think about it… since it would be a nightclub ran by a book department… I don’t think I’d want to go. Regardless, every single week I have new arrivals being delivered to me from all over the country. Online, I scroll through the recommendations and bestseller lists, hammering that “Add to Cart” button like a meth-head at Chuck E. Cheese’s playing Whack-A-Mole. Every book that looks vaguely intriguing to me, I buy. Fiction, nonfiction, biographies, it doesn’t matter. I find it all interesting now. Once I finish the order, I instantly get excited, knowing that very soon, they’ll be in my hands.
Come to think of it, I have some arriving this Tuesday. Hell yes.
|Hell fucking yes.|