Rendezvous at the Fiction Corner

» 19 September 2005 » In Books »

I love books. But I adore new books.
To me there is something singular about picking up a crisp volume, feeling it heft or lightness in my hands, turning it over to inspect how well it’s been put together. I like to run my fingers over the texture of the cover and the pages, flicking them like playing cards, one thin sheet after another in a deliberate and languorous movement, catching a glance of a letter, a word, a sentence. I look at the unbroken spine, binding the book until its proper owner decides to make the first crease by unfolding it harshly, to keep it in its place during breakfast or lunch.
I like to glimpse through the quotes and adulations on the back cover, all unequivocally promising a remarkable experience. I look at the foreign objects affixed to the book by the book mongers, the promotional stickers and pricing labels, pinning its value to a specific amount and categorizing it among its brethren. I open a page at random and look at the typeface, noting its stylistic grace, the seriffed letters, the elaborate initials, the ascenders and the descenders, forever trying to fill the empty space between the lines. I hold the book closer and gently inhale its unique and tangy smell: the ink, the glue, and the paper melting together into a characteristic bouquet that makes you swoon slightly and triggers the memories you thought were long gone.
I sit and look at the new book in my hands, thinking about the promise contained inside this veritable Schrödinger’s box, the work that went into it all, the time someone spent in a dusty office, in a country house, in a dark room illuminated by the glow of a screen, capturing the words out of ether and into their solid form, struggling against the entropy, stringing one sentence after another, and another, and another. I wonder whether I will be absorbed for hours or abandon it after just a few chapters, condemning it to sit in the book case until given away to someone more appreciative. I savor the anticipation of turning to the first page and being seized by the opening sentence. But until I do that… this moment is mine, and this experience will remain, always, a sublime one.
Here’s to a new book.

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