Car Talk, Book Prattle

I don’t give much thought to cars. I own a Subaru. But I didn’t buy it because the holy spirit of an ad got into my nervous system. I bought it because friends I know said they had Subarus and they ran okay. That was good enough for me. I’m not one to waste time on considering a make or a model or whether a car can somehow reflect my personality — or worse, as a show of my material wealth, or lack of.

In fact, if I was to actually buy a car that reflects my personality, I’d opt for a black 973 Mercedes-Benz 250 Saloon. But I don’t think it would be reliable enough for Maine’s winters. And I need reliability when it comes to a car. And I don’t need to have to think about the damn thing. Just drive and be driven, that’s my motto.

I’m the complete opposite when it comes to books. I don’t want a reliable book, the kind of book that purrs in your lap like a friendly cat. I want some hiss and scratching action. In fact, the more I am beat-up emotionally by a book, the better.

And whereas I don’t give a horse’s piss to whether a car reflects my personality, it is extremely important when it comes to books. The books I read shape the person I am, and I would have it no other way. It’s as if instead of atoms and cells, my body is made up of a helix of books and words. This is my DNA. And my blood is the blood of other writers. And my heart is the heart of all who read and write for unrequited love.

And the books I read must poke and prod and dare me to think differently — or at least take a leisurely drive with an idea or a feeling or a image or metaphor or a sentence that I have never encountered before but always hoped to. I want something other than the self I know when I read a book but I also want the self I am to be made stronger and more exciting and more unpredictable and more imaginative and even more of an individual.

The advice of others, however, is always important, be it about cars or books. The books I read are always at the advice of others, living or dead. The gift of a book is really about the gift of giving.

That’s why you’ll never see me driving a convertible sports car: I’d rather own a massive library with comfy leather chairs and room to roam.


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