The spark between the nodes

Even a bad book can make me happier than a good day of the trivial. The bad book may fail on certain levels but as a book it never can. It opens, it closes, it rests on a table, it sits on your knee, it feels good in the hand, it may even have a smell that you love. And even a bad book can have a sentence you’ve never read before that curls up inside you and purrs.

Now show me a politician who can do that. Politicians repeat themselves endlessly. They garble the same language over and over. It’s as if they have been given one vocabulary only and must sound it incessantly.

Give me a writer any day. Only writers can reinvent language and give us a vocabulary we can use.

But I’ve never understood why people turn to books for happiness. If you don’t have any happiness inside you there’s no way in hell a book’s going to give it to you. It matters just as much what you bring to a book as what you take from it. And for me, a book should firstly tell a riveting story. After that, it’s anybody smorgasbord. You go to books not to take away but to add. Add on to your own life.

As a writer, though, I’m interested in a passion for language and an ambition for form and ideas and satire and sex and death. So I seek it in books. And then I find out more about myself because what I go to the book with is always different from what I leave the book with. Has to be because I come with my rattlebag and end up coming away with more goodies in it that I never knew I had. They were somehow hidden or called something else by me. And we all have our rattlebags already filled. Thing is, though, we just don’t know what we have in there, just don’t know everything that’s in there. And that’s why there are books.


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