I can’t live without words. They swirl around my head sometimes, my mind getting stuck on the particularly delicious ones. Like esoteric; or slumber; or balderdash.
And the best place to find words is in books, of course. Books are where words live, where they build homes: sometimes castles, made out of bricks of serious, pompous words; mansions of literary merit. There are words in dark caves, shivering in thrillers and murder stories; swooning words, crossing and caressing each other, in love stories. Words that skip across the pages in children’s books; sashay in chick-lit; and glide in erotica.
There are always books next to my bed, at least two, but more likely eight to ten. Sometimes they rest on the bedside table, but when the pile gets too big, it tends to fall over. So now I have a leather box on the floor, into which I put the books – initially in neat piles, which tend to slowly collapse over the month.
I can’t sleep without a book next to the bed. In fact, I feel worried and insecure if I haven’t got at least one there. Even if I don’t read before falling asleep, I like to know that I could if I wanted to. Preferably, though, I like to have a few so that I can choose depending on my mood.
I’ve just finished reading “So Much for That” by Lionel Shriver and so enjoyed it that I continued holding it in my hands for at least five minutes after finishing reading it. It was almost as though I could taste the words, their aftertaste lingering like the bittersweet memory of dark chocolate. She’s the author who wrote “We Must Talk about Kevin”, which was a hectic, angry, scary book. This one is still hard-hitting and honest, but has a lighter touch in that she imbues a sense of humour into it, albeit dark and ascerbic. She writes about cancer without romanticising it; her character Glynis is bitter and angry about having cancer – it doesn’t turn her into a nicer person. Flicka, a teenage girl with Dysautonomia, is sarcastic, rude and gaspingly honest about her condition. Shep, Glynis’ husband, had been hoping to escape the rat race to go and live on a carefree African island, when Glynis is diagnosed with cancer and Shep has to carry on working to get his health insurance.
Shriver uses the story to highlight the short-comings of the American health system, and how it screws the man in the street, by highlighting how Shep’s savings are rapidly depleted by the medical demands of his wife’s cancer treatment.
This is such a well-written book that I didn’t want to stop reading it and after I had finished it, other writing seemed childish or inept for a while. The story started flagging towards the end, and I felt that Shriver was trying to tie the whole story up too neatly, but it didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of it.