Friday, 30 March 2012

Library Pledge...oops!

I’ve taken my pledge to borrow a book from the library each month so seriously for March that I’ve borrowed two...but not found joy in either.  Oops!

To be fair, this may be more to do with my smash-and-grab approach to picking them (without any smash, I hasten to add!), than with the actual books – because if I’d taken time to browse, to read a few pages and consider the style of each, I probably wouldn’t have picked them at all.

So the first March Pledge – it was a Saturday, I was off work but in town mooching around, and I didn’t realise the library closed for lunch...until I was walking into it.  The friendly library manager who I know smiled and said I had a few minutes...but I work in a shop and often growl inwardly at customers who come in right on closing time, so I should know better!  Oops.  There I am, reading spines of books faster than a checkout scanner, trying to figure out which one to borrow, pulling one down and skimming the blurb...and there’s a voice over my shoulder, rightfully informing me that they were closing.  I shut the cover of the book I was considering like slamming my hand in a door, rush over to the self-service machine, momentarily forget how to work a computer...and then scuttle out the door with my tome in tow.

It should’ve been a story I’d like, according to the blurb, and while the writing was ok, I just couldn’t vibe the characters...and it was a really, really big hardback.  I’m really not a fan of hardbacks, unless they’re coffee-table stylee photography ones – they’re not ergonomic at all, you know; they give you arm ache just by looking at them.  And while size doesn’t usually put me off (no smutty jokes, now, please!), this time it didn’t coax me back into the pages.

Returning it was a pleasure – but as I was doing so on the second Poetry Liaisons event at my local library* (see my post about the first one here: ), I didn’t have time to browse for another title.  Cut to a week later, I’ve just finished a morning shift and my stomach thinks my throats been cut (which it often feels like – damn the air conditioning; it makes me so thirsty!).  Dreaming of my not-so-gourmet lunch ahead hastens my choice once again, and I pick an unusual and interesting sounding story, ‘Waiting for Columbus’ by Thomas Trofimuk (London: Picador, 2010).

Reading the first few pages intrigued me, reading the few that followed puzzled me, the next couple confused me, and the last ones didn’t connect me to the characters.  So I stopped.  Skipped forward to the end, of course, to find out how it ended (I know, I know, slap my wrist!), and part of me wished I’d hung on in there, for the dénouement was quite poignant...but as the answer to the puzzle seemed only to be fully answered a chapter or so before the end, I know there’s no way I would’ve had the patience.  Oops.

While you shake your head at me (I’m a bad, bad reader, I know!), I’d like to enter Exhibit A and B as my defence: I did fall in love with two quotations, from the beginning and the end (of course, you object, for that’s all you read!), and I’d like to share them with you:

 p2: “This is a desolate, rocky place.  Its rocks seem old, as if they have been written down in an ancient, forgotten language...He looks out and feels the ocean’s coldness – understands the uncaring green and grey, the undulating deep heart of it.”

 p389: “There was no movement.  No healing.  He felt like a ghost, an apparition who imbibed – never quite drunk but never truly sober, never truly there.  [He] felt like he was starting to disappear – soundless, swallowed.  There was no evidence of a life.  There was only scant evidence of consumption.”

So, my defence rests and you, the prosecution, know my bad reading habits...but what will the April Pledge jury decide?!

*No oops here – again, the evening was an enjoyable and roaring success, and though I felt a little shy and only read out one poem, the guest poet from the first event is holding a poetry workshop soon, and I’m enrolling...just as soon as I’m at the library!


  1. you know books can sometimes deliver us a false promise...we read the synopsis and are transported through the door, only to find the path on the other side is long and boring and all the excitment was bound up in the short paragraph of the for exhibit A & B although eloquently written, for me I detect a hard read ahead...Mel :)

  2. even in my fogginess I read this and it made me smile, so you my lovely. you'll be pleased to know I have found a new author - it said for fans of C J Sansom so I was hooked. When read I will let you borrow it of course, not sure that counts towards your library pledge though! Zo xx


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