Monday, June 29, 2009

The sadness when you finish reading a really good book

The Supply Party, Martin Edmond (East Street 2009)

Last night I finished reading this book, that had occupied the privileged bedtime reading spot. In the past few nights, as it drew up towards its final chapters (or did it fall away towards them?) a sadness grew in me that I would soon be coming to the end of the story. The familiar - but not that familiar - sweet regret and almost a disbelief that one is nearing the end of a really good book.

I could read it again, sure (in fact many chapters I had already read at least twice, because of my habit of browsing a book thoroughly before deciding to read it), but it will never again be the FIRST time I have read it.

This is one great book. Trouble is I felt that way about Martin Edmond's Luca Antara too, which is plainly a masterpiece. So am I getting soft in my old age, and just loving every book I pick up? Or am I just being a little more discerning lately about what I will read?

To quote Wellington poet Geoff Cochrane:

I hear of a hot new writer and I think, What are the chances? But what are the chances of his being any good?

Lately I have felt like sticking to the tried-and-true. Not in the mood for the next best thing, who might (he or she) just be a clever marketing gig from a publicist for whom every new voice is stunning.

In the kind of winter I'm living through this year (elemental) it's really important to have a trustworthy book in your lap because it's too damn cold to go into unheated rooms fossicking for another option.

The colder it gets, the more I appreciated struggling through the Australian desert. Must reread some Patrick White next.

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