I have been trying to explain this peculiar phenomenon to anyone who will listen: sometimes I love a book so much I simply cannot bear to read it. I stroke it and I open it and stare at the pattern the words make on the page and sometimes I even sniff it, but I seem to have to enjoy something of an old-fashioned courtship with certain books before I can even begin to dig in and devour them.
Yes. I have been trying to explain it and frankly those I have tried to explain it to look at me as if I have just described a penchant for eating baked fennel completely starkers.
It isn’t a common occurrence. In fact these books I revere to such a degree are few and far between. Nor does it apply to the entire repertoire of a particular adored author.
I can for example read all of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s work all day long, but I reserve a special place in my heart for Romancing the Ordinary and very, very rarely pick it up. And the same goes for Nigel Slater. I can manage Tender and Real Fast food and it’s ilk but the thought of reading his Kitchen Diaries on a whim, without due respect and something like a prayer of thank-you’s strikes me as preposterous.
I consider wordy excellence to be something of a beautiful gift and yet at the same time as revering such words I also fear them. I worry I will absorb them and take them so to heart I will come to believe I own them and thus allow their influence to seep into my own writing. This then also explains why there are certain blogs in this beautiful on-line land of ours that I simply cannot bear to read. Take for example Posie Gets Cozy. Word and pictures that make me want to weep in wonder. And sometime I do: almost as act of worship.
And then there are words that appall me. Words I obsess over. There is for example a blogger who shall have to remain nameless who makes my entire being seethe. It is irrational of course. She is after all a human being entitled to all the idiosyncrasies and snark we all are. But something inside me is made prickly by her very existence and so I cannot help but pour over every slightly rubbish word this prolific woman writes. In an obsessional fashion. And though I am absolutely mortified to be admitting this, I am so fascinated by my urge to punish myself by reading her, that I cannot help but confess it here.
What then are we to make of these confessions? Why would I hold some words in such high regard I cannot read them while eagerly devouring badly drawn sentences from authors I cannot tolerate?
What does it say about me that I should so willingly deprive myself of pleasure while seeking out the kind bad writing that gives me a throbbing headache?