A Squeeze of the Hand — Notes from a Marriage
In one of the many conversations Adam and I have had about ourselves, as we are our favorite subjects, I said to him, "I read fiction, you read literature." It was a statement of definition of character as much as it was a definition of reading preference, and ever since I have rested easier with that understanding, no longer waiting for that spark of interest to register effortlessly when trying (without success) to read Nabokov's Lolita, or struggling to grasp the language and unconventional style of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. Instead I wrap myself in the folds of mysteries of Cornwell, the horrors of McCammon and King, and the steampunk sci-fi oddities of Blaylock. Less poetic in language I'm sure, but the ease at which I can fully be a part of their worlds is a seductive and alluring mistress. It is no wonder that my own writing reflects these styles and authors, and if ever success is to be had by my pen it will bear the mark of Fiction, and not of Literature.
This brings me round to the cold and rainy evening of Tuesday night. Adam and I found ourselves with an hour to kill while out and about so we took shelter inside Powells on Hawthorne. The majority of the time when Adam and I are in a bookstore together we immediately part ways, sequestering ourselves off to our separate corners of the reading world only to be summoned by text or a tap on the shoulder signaling the time for departure. But last night we didn't have a bookstore agenda. Our purpose for the evening was to spend time together so when we entered Powells, uncharacteristically, we followed each other. From aisle to aisle, from book to book, we casually grazed on titles and authors and shared idle comments. Within one of our pauses and perusals Adam picks up a book and says, "I've always wanted to read this." I casually glance over and my brow rises, "Huh! Me too." In his hand he was holding, Moby-Dick.
We began to pick through the many different copies stocked there, because it's Powells (for any of you non-Portlanders) it is of course supplied with both new and used copies, all with different covers and introductions and price tags. "Which one should we get?" Adam asks, there's about six different books to choose from, all in different sizes from different years with different smells. He picks up a rather robust copy, all slick with newness, with matte gray and black color and a tastefully simple illustration. It was a recently published copy weighty with its $15 price tag. I pick up a smaller version of the book. Its spine bears the creases of previous readings, the pages soft with wear. Its illustration shows sailors in trouble beached utop a bored looking whale. And it smells like ocean air. "I like this one." Adam shakes his head, he disapproves. We go on like this for a good five minutes, picking up every copy and fondling its pages and covers and reading introductions and essays. I really want to read Moby-Dick and I know, I know - that whichever copy I choose will either help or hurt my chances of successfully doing so. And then an idea pops into my head and is past my lips before my heart registers a beat, "Let's buy two copies and read them together." Adam casts a sideways glance at me and peers over his glasses "Really?" he sounds doubtful. I imagine my eyes wide but I'm trying to act casual, trying my best at being convincing, "Sure!" I say. "We can assign ourselves a certain number of pages a day and that way we're always on the same page by the end of the night. We can discuss the book as we read it and then again at more length when we finish." Adam loves this idea, of course he does, he's always urging me to read his books so we can discuss them, the closest we get is when he reads one of MY books and then tells me all the reasons why he didn't like it. I say this with affection mind you. If Adam liked what I liked he wouldn't be the exceedingly intelligent man I love and married. And he loves that I like what I do because if I liked what he liked his life would be a bore. So this is our task. Just as soon as he's done reading, The History of Japan, and I'm done with Stephen King's IT, we will take to the high seas together, hand in hand, on a hunt for The Whale.
that was the dreamy-est date ever.
Lamar, you are a constant amazement to me. My daughter of the Tomes.
Sounds like a lovely evening! So which copy is the one you picked? The left one??
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