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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Keep Swinging

I swung and missed twice. But on the third swing the ball sailed out of the park.

Since reading "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair" soon after its 2011 release, I have longed for a discussion to rival the richness of Nina Sankovitch's book. Both my earlier attempts at moderating book club discussions were so disappointing. But earlier today a good friend and I spent two and one half hours exchanging treasured sentences ("It is a gift we humans have - to hold on to beauty felt in a moment for a lifetime"), discussing the muscular language ("...chisel away at imprisoning sorrow...") and comparing how many books we'd each read from the list of 365 the author provided, books she herself finished over her "year of magical reading ". And still, my friend and I barely scratched the surface. When we parted she said "we need another two hours." What was the last book discussion you had with someone that similarly transported you?

My ardent evangelism about "Tolstoy..." deepens each time I re-read my notes - seven double sided notebook sheets for a book under 230 pages. Those notes are nearly even divided between the author's luminous sentences  - "The only balm to sorrow is memory; the only salve for the pain of losing someone to death is acknowledging the life that existed before" - and my own journal-like entries describing how the book reached me at a molecular level.

Breaking my lifelong reluctance to ever contact an author, in September 2011 I wrote a note to Sankovitch on her blog and included the link (below) to my own post about "Tolstoy..." Though she never responded directly, the number of views that post has subsequently gotten suggests she has forwarded it to others. I'm pleased. When someone has taught me valuable lessons and given me such pleasure how can it hurt telling them so? Of the hundreds of books I've mentioned here over the years, "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair" is solidly in the top 25. Today's discussion? In the top 10.


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