Late last night, after some poor wine, I looked at the book I was reading, started thinking and scribbled some notes. I was up at 6.30 this morning and spent a couple of hours writing an essay about that book. It’s a bit long to post here, so I’ve put it my main site. Here’s the link, and here are the first few paragraphs:
This week I’ve been reading Voltaire. So grand it sounds, to be reading his work. And not only Voltaire, but Balzac and Zola, Torkington and Twain. That’s what a collection of short stories offers. One story every lunchtime. I don’t usually read short stories, nor work by these writers, but that’s the serendipity of life on a boat. Now they are my lunchtime companions, one at a time.
This particular collection deserves an essay of its own. Having been conceived in the mind of a publishing executive somewhere, in London or the Home Counties, it’s now on my boat in southern Sicily, and when I examine the volume I toy with the idea that it must have had an interesting life.
One might surmise an engaging history – a series of tales – if one looked at the face of a handsome middle aged woman with lines radiating from the corners of her eyes and lips, lines recording her undoubted catalogue of lovers and admirers. So with the book.
Two inches or so in thickness, a paperback production with a well-exercised spine and, probably, a shorter life expectancy than its hardback sibling might anticipate. The beauty is not immediately obvious, as the cover design is not engaging. Enjoying the beauty requires a long affair comprising a series of snatched lunchtime trysts, building admiration and memories, until it ends suddenly. The recollections, however, will be pleasurable and will not contain recrimination or pain as might have an affair with a woman of beauty who sees her next lover appearing and leaves her lover of the moment for pleasures afresh.