I am not a reviewer of books; I make no such claim. Although it is true that through my reading I have learned a great many things, unless I am reading for work, I simply read for the sheer love of it. Nothing more complicated than that. Because, like most avid readers, my time spent with books is limited and therefore precious I do not waste time with something I am not enjoying. I will simply move on; the possibilities are limitless.
I don't follow what is on the best sellers lists; I do not subscribe to literary magazines; my television viewing is limited, although eclectic, and I don't spend a lot of time on the Internet. I am not sure whether I am just too busy with the task of getting through everyday challenges, or juggling too many balls to be distracted, or perhaps simply clueless, but I seem to be out of step with my fellow travelers. And I discover treasures long after everyone else has found them, digested them, and discussed them at length. I suppose I could look upon my situation as half full or half empty. I choose full. Looked at in that light, when I find a gem I feel a certain smugness at being very, very clever at having unearthed it. I claim a personal "squatters rights" over it. That's how it was when I joined a book club a few years back. I ordered The Book Thief, Sea Of Poppies, The Graveyard Book and Becoming Victoria...none of which I had heard of before I looked at the catalog. How brilliant was I to have discovered them! At least, that is how I remember it. Perhaps somewhere my subconscious held on to a comment or a recommendation or a "thumbs up" given by someone else. But it is more fun to believe I found them by myself.
What made me have the library place a hold on The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern? I cannot recall. I probably read a review and it was probably on a book blog. But I am selfish, and I choose to believe that I was just being...discerning? Brilliant? I was so excited to pass along the news of my "great find." I could hardly wait! When I finished it I had to call one of my bookish friends, right away! "Great news you will thank me for..." (Short pause) "Oh, yes! My book club read that last year....or was it January of this year?" She replies blithely. I sighed. Sometimes one's friends can be such a disappointment.
You may have heard of The Night Circus. You may have even read it. If not, I hope you do...and I hope you will find it as enchanting as I did.
"It is important," the man in the grey suit interrupts. "Someone needs to tell those tales. When the battles are fought and won and lost, when the pirates find their treasures and the dragons eat their foes for breakfast with a nice cup of Lapsang souchong, someone needs to tell their bits of overlapping narrative. There's magic in that. It's in the listener, and for each and every ear it will be different, and will affect them in ways they can never predict. From the mundane to the profound. You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows what they might do because of it, because of your words.
The step through the gates that takes you from painted ground to bare grass feels heavy. You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Reves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus. You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.