This week's assignment from writing class is to write about little things we love. We were asked, on our call on Monday, to make a list of tiny objects we love. Strangely, I got a little hung up after Jasper's tag, my blue lotus earrings, my notebook, the photo of The Kid at a May Day celebration at Waldorf School, his grinning baby face wreathed in flowers. This morning the little thing I am particularly loving is The Lost Art of Gratitude by Alexander McCall Smith, latest in the series of Isabel Dalhousie novels.
For my birthday a few years ago, my mother sent me a package. No doubt she was impatient with how difficult it is to make plans with us, always so busy, but also what a delightful impulse. Who doesn't love the prospect of a surprise, the receipt of a box containing who knows what? She sent me all of the Dalhousie books, the first 4 in paperback, the last hardback. I knew McCall Smith from the Ladies Detective Agency books, but didn't know anything about these stories. I read the five books in a week. They're lovely little things, light, delightful. They make me dream of Scotland.
After a workshop in a bookstore on Sunday past, I allowed myself one purchase and one only. A bookstore is a place of huge temptation for me -- so easy for me to spend hours and dollars, leave with bags and bags of books, more books than I can possibly accomodate either physically or in space and time, feeding my greedy little inner collector as much as my voracious reader. From the sale table, I selected the latest Dalhousie, on remainder for $6.99.
I started it yesterday, loathe to drag the Murakami to the chair. Although I'm on page 224 of 1Q84 and loving it, I am still a little oppressed by its heft. Finding a comfortable supine position in which to hold it is a bit challenging.
So instead I grabbed the Dalhousie, headed for the big chair, dog in lap, and started in.
It's wonderful. There are moments, phrases, that make me laugh out loud. There has been, also, at least one occasion on which I've audibly gasped, causing Joe to look up and over from whatever he was reading (the paper, I think). It's written in such a smooth, engaging manner, so old-fashioned in just the right way.
Nowadays while reading, I am super conscious of how stories are put together. Well, to be fair, that's something I am always aware of, something that I'm tracking even as I'm engrossed in the story. I spent too many years studying literature to be able to just read without marveling at the artistry required to build the structure. But now, really, I'm reading more keenly, knowing that it's coming, the time when I will be putting together the book. This makes me super conscious of the skeleton beneath the fur.
How wonderful that just now I was on McCall Smith's website and discovered that this book I'm reading now is not the last in the series. There are two more for me to devour in short order as soon as possible, sitting curled up in the big chair, indulging myself in the name of research!
Truly, truly: a good little story is something I really love.