Today I was driving the big ol' news car into the city, listening to Richard Fidler's "Conversation Hour" on ABC 612. (Don't tell my station, ok?)
His guest was a woman who's written a guide book to reading the "classics" - War & Peace, Wuthering Heights, Shane Warne's autobiography (ok, maybe not).
They mentioned briefly Jack Kerouac's "On the Road", which I must confess to never having read. Richard Fidler mentioned his favourite quote from the book, which talks about the narrator's interest in "mad" people, who live outside society's rules.
At that moment, as I drove along the one-way Ann Street, I noticed there was a man walking barefoot in the middle of the four-lane road, moving with the traffic, with his unkempt grey-haired and grey-bearded head looking down. He struck me as possibly troubled, maybe even homeless. (Although this was just a cultural tag I applied). But nobody was beeping him, or yelling at him to get out of the way. I didn't catch much of him; I had to keep moving with the traffic flow.
It was one of those moments of synchronicity which was made even more vivid when I found a park - directly out front of a "Fine Books" antique store on Charlotte Street. I made a promise to myself to go in a buy a book - any book - when I got back from Campbell Newman's media conference. Of course, I got back to the big ol' news truck and called in to the newsroom to feed them my report. I was then promptly diverted to Coopers Plains, where there'd been a gas leak. I forgot about the promise to buy a book.
I'm currently reading "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote. I started it a few nights ago, fully intending to read just a few pages before turning in for the night. But I was struck by his prose and his exceptional attention to detail - detail that he had to research, and not just spend time creating (being as it's a non-fiction novel and all). I read for almost an hour instead.
All this has made me realise I need to get back to reading, and reading widely. I enjoy reading and often can't stop when I'm engrossed. But I need to get keen on the classics again. I love "North and South" and "Pride and Prejudice" but it's time to keep exploring.
The guest on Richard Fidler's program ( I can't remember her name) had an intriguing final point - that great literature can often be TOO deep for young people; that it creates doubt and fear where there should be hope and adventure. Being reasonably young and a fair bit prone to frowns, I'll have to watch myself that I am inspired by what I read to change things, and not get too introspective.
Maybe one day I'll be able to write, and write well, and write books people will want to read, or plays people will want to perform. But in order to that I need to read more of the books that people ARE reading, and the plays people are going to see!
Once again what was intended to be a short post turned out to be an epistle. :)