Sunday, May 27, 2007

What reading is about

My son once asked me what goes on in my head when I read. Is it like a movie being played? Do I imagine the scenes as I read? Yes! In the days when I was growing up, there were no pcs, no internet, no online games, no msn, DVDs, VCDs, Ipods, MP3s etc but I had just as exciting a time as kids now because I had books and I had a LIFE magazine subscription and a wonderful full-coloured ecyclopedia that is now out of print and that I still treasure - The Caxton Encyclopedia where I learned about art from all the beautiful photos of the paintings of the masters through the ages.
Let me explain what reading does for me using excerpts from the novel by the Booker Prize 2006 winner "The Inheritance of Loss" by Kiran Desai:

"...Nepali ladies with golden rings dangling and Tibetan women with braids and prayer beads, between those who had walked from faraway villages to sell muddy mushrooms covered with brackish leaves or greenery, already half cooked in the sun. Powders, oils and ganglions of roots were proffered by Lepchia medicine men; other stalls offered yak hair, untidy and rough as the hair of demons, and sacks of miniature dried shrimp with oversized whiskers; there were smuggled foreign goods from Nepal, perfumes, jean jackets, electronics; there were kukri sickles, sheets of plastic rainproofing and false teeth."

Why, I could paint this scene just based on this description. And, if you want sound to go with this market scene, here it is:

"The muffled thunder of prayer rumbled down the mountain as the mules and horses stepped pom-pommed out of the fog, bells singing, prayer flags flying from the saddles."
If you want smell, here it is:
"...Tibetan muleteers in furry boots, earrings swinging and the earthy smell of men and beasts had run a hot current against that exquisite scent of pine that people like Lola and Noni came from Calcutta to sample."

If you want to experience the emotions of the character:
"He went to Lark's store for Tosh's tea, egg noodles and Milkmaid condensed milk. He told the doctor, who had come in to collect the vaccines that she stored in the Lark's fridge, "My son has a new job in the USA." Her son was there as well. He shared this with a doctor! The most distinguished personage in town."

How could we find time to be bored when there was so much living to do just through reading alone.

No comments: