What’s the most important selling characteristic of a book these days? 

Readability. 

The number of half-read, unread books keeps piling up even on my shelf. I try not to meet their reproaching eyes when i pass by them or scroll by them. 

Consider the current crop of ‘genius’ authors. Foer. Franzen. Murakami. Ishiguro. And the worst of them all. The Proust pretender. Knausgaard. Mark my words, in a year or two everyone will be crooning about Knausgaard. I can’t stand him. 

All of them readable. 

Like a burger. Like cheap beer. 

Easy. Time guzzlers. 

It seems we have gleaned all we had to glean. Knowledge, wisdom, laughter. There’s nothing new. The recycled life with recycled conversations and jokes that never seem new. Their ideas and beliefs about themselves are so deeply entrenched, it’s like they poured three coats of cement and one coat of lacquer over them and let it set. THIS is me. So sure. 

It’s like the universe is a fucking philharmonic orchestra and we are the only audience and we get to only listen to pieces we like. Nothing primordial, nothing primal. Gone are the days when people used to pick a book just reading the back cover and trudge through it till the end. 

There are only two things a book can offer us these days. A. Relief from boredom and B. Slow us down. 

Readable. Easy. Doesn’t slow down. 

As compliments go, it is a piss-poor compliment for a book. 

I don’t like easy. I will spend my life chasing difficult. That’s who i am. A woman i know once criticised my being – calling me too intense for my own good. Another time she said i want some drama and some sadness. 

No easy holidays. No easy or attainable women. No easy conversations. No easy art. As soon as i find something getting too comfortable, i jolt either it or me. 

And no. no. no easy books. 

No fucking readability for me. Fast paced, coherent, linear with not a single memorable line – not for me anymore. I am not here to listen to pieces i like. I am going to make a new self with the pieces. 

I can have a mundane conversation for days – just to clutch madly like a spider spinning a web to catch that one line and then never ever let that line go. I can read pages and pages of self aggrandising drivel for that one aha page. Or a single phrase. These words are pieces which click click click in my head and slowly like an erotic striptease over the years, reveal to me who is me. Click whirr. Click whirr. Click whirr. 

People ask me – is the 1000 page worth it? As if their time is the most valuable thing on planet earth – when most of their time is spent inanely on Facebook. Is swimming across the English channel worth it if you are a fucking paper boat? 

If you want someone who cares for words, who literally spends them like my family spends money, only when necessary and even then not at all, i shall let you in a secret. 

Read Lydia Davis. 

Don’t look her up. Don’t read fucking reviews. Just read. I am loathe to let you in one of the tiny morsels of treasure i have because you won’t see it as a treasure. You won’t find the single stone that sets off the entire bland necklace which needs to rest in that space just after your neck ends and our anticipation starts but ends before even a tiny glimpse of that cleavage. It won’t dangle teasingly enough for you. 

A chance conversation today made me think of one of the simpler stories of hers. 

That’s it. The entire story. Maybe you won’t get it. Until you will. You will. Someday. I am sure. And when you do, look at me differently, even for a moment 

Don’t escape through literature. Make it something that at times you have to endure, be in it. In tiny tiny morsels. Find what limits can be pushed to tell the same story. Find places in words which are never named but they are never clearer even if you’ve been there. 

Shrug that complacency. Hold lydia Davis tonight. Don’t rush through her. A mundane story a day. Not more. Never more. And when you are done, they will coalesce in your head like a necklace, the pearl will slot in its place, the neck of your dress will deepen to fit it in and you know i will flit by. 

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