Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.

16.7.13

Disappearing into stories.

A bookseller discusses reading therapy in last week's Weekly Review:
Every day in our bookshop we meet customers keen to 'disappear into a story' but who are struggling to find, or regain, their literary mojo. Some ... suffer a reading disorder. ... We meet customers with health issues; their chemotherapy, or post-op recovery, drug treatments, or sheer exhaustion, have affected their attention spans. 'I just want an easy read' is a common request from the unwell, the infirm, the emotionally drained, the weary.
The writer's 'remedial' reading list includes J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carré and Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach.

Uplifting or wrist-slashing? Is Catcher in the Rye more likely to reignite one's literary passion, or kill it stone dead? Some of those books are icons of a particular kind of mid-twentieth century literary mindset. It must be difficult being a bookseller. Do customers ever walk in and say 'That last book was too easy. Give me something I can't get through'?

I read history and edge-of-seat detection for escapism. The faster the pages turn, the quicker the cure. George Orwell described an early James Hadley Chase novel as 'a brilliant piece of writing, with hardly a word wasted or a false note anywhere'. Chase mixed crime, detection, hatred, murder, insurance salesmen and gothic horror. He wrote about a hundred books and you can't get them any more. They've all disappeared. Chase was a bookseller when he started writing. He must have known something.

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Of course, there's more than one way of disappearing into a story. Another tomorrow.

2 comments:

Melbourne Girl said...

Bloody hell KH, they're considered "easy reads"???

Not where I come from...although I have to admit I have read all of the Harry Potter books and thoroughly enjoyed them...at least you can fall asleep on the banana lounge while reading them and not have to worry about the last page you read and losing the gist of the story

Catcher in the Rye? mmmm not my idea of light and easy

Dr. Alice said...

As I think I've said before, I didn't like "Catcher in the Rye." Although I thought "Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters" was well written.