Sunday, December 29, 2013

Comfort in Words

I have always found such comfort in words. It doesn't matter if I am reading them or writing them, they always help.Caroline has this same outlook. Honestly, she needs words like oxygen. Early in the winter, when things seemed to be spinning out of control, I found time to meet my friend at the library and look for books. My system for finding books has always been so random, and yet I always find what I need for just that moment in time. Every since I first learned how to read, I have tended to go through the library alphabetically. I find an author that I like, I read everything available by him/her and then move on to another author on the same shelf. Lately, I have found myself in the B's. The first one was The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. This is why I needed this book:

For Lillian's mother, every part of a book was magic, but what she delighted in the most were the words themselves. Lillian's mother collected exquisite phrases and complicated rhythms, descriptions that undulated across a page like cake batter pouring into a pan, read aloud to put the words in the air, where she could hear as well as see them.

Oh, Lily, her mother would say, listen to this one. It sounds green don't you think?

And Lillian, who was too young to know that words were not colors and thoughts were not sounds, would listen while the syllables fell quietly through her, and she would think, This is what green sounds like...............

Not surprisingly, when it came time for Lillian to learn to read, she balked. It was not only an act of defiance, although by the time kindergarten started, Lillian was already feeling toward books private surges of aggression that left her both confused and slightly powerful. But it wasn't just that. In Lillian's world, books were covers and words were sounds and movement, not form. She could not equate the rhythms that had insinuated themselves into her imagination with what she saw on the paper. The words lay prone across the page, arranged in unyielding precision. There was no magic on the page itself, Lillian saw; and while this increased Lillian's estimation of her mother's abilities, it did nothing to further her interest in books.

What a gift it must be to be a writer, someone who loves words, and yet to be able to put into words how it feels to be betrayed by them. I swear this must be how it feels for my Lillian. She loves to listen to books. She can follow and pay attention to some of the most complicated plot lines. This is how she developed her amazing oral vocabulary (well Rob, Caroline, and I also helped). And yet, she hates to read. Lately,  I seem to have hit pay dirt with Ivy and Bean, as long as she reads them on the Kindle.

Next from the B section came A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards by Ann Bauer. Yes, I needed that too. No, I am no way in the same situation, however, it describes so perfectly the lengths a mother will go to fight for her child, all while explaining in painful detail how agonizing that fight can be. It was bittersweet in the most perfect way. Someday, I will make a book club for people who can see and appreciate the beauty and absolute necessity of the bittersweet novel.

Ironically, the next two books from the B section had main characters who died from cancer. I guess, both books were necessary in the fact that I proved to myself that I can read books about cancer without falling apart. It seems kind of like poking an open cut, but it works for me.

No comments: