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I read ... a lot. But if you are a friend of mine you already know that because the majority of my on-line friends are all avid readers. I tend to read 2 to 3 books at the same time - a little of each every day. One on my bedroom nightstand, a different one on the end-table on my end of the couch, and yet a different one that travels back and forth with me to work so I can read during my lunch hour. So, I have read quite a number of books (I started as a kid and I am well into my 50's now) and there are quite a number that really made an impression on me - Thoreau, Irving, Coleridge, Burroughs, Tolkien, Heinlein, Asimov, Brackett, Howard, etc. It is, imho, an extensive list.
Anyway, sometimes I come across a passage where the author's words paint an extremely vivid picture in my mind and move my soul. It evokes a vision so profound that I truly yearn to be that character at that moment, to experience that moment in reality. I have to borrow a term I learned from reading Carl Sagan's Contact to describe it - numinous.
I came across such a passage yesterday, and it rocked me (again) so much that I wanted to share. I am in the middle of re-reading The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I started re-reading it because I came across a bogus post on Amazon DOT com saying the sequel, The Wise Man's Fear would be out this month, and I wanted to get back into the spirit of Kvothe's adventures. While this first novel in the series was published by DAW back in April 2007, let me just say that if you still have not had the opportunity to do so, run right out and grab this book. True fantasy and I have not been close friends for many years, but I have found exceptions - this and George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Fire and Ice" series. Anyway, I do not think you will be disappointed.
And so, here it is. The passage that did it to me ... again:
"It was a happy childhood, growing up in the center of an endless fair. My father would read to me from the great monologues during the long wagon rides between towns. Reciting mostly from memory, his voice would roll down the road for a quarter mile. I remember reading along, coming in on the secondary parts. My father would encourage me to try particularly good sections myself, and I learned to love the feel of good words.
My mother and I would make up songs together. Other times my parents would act out romantic dialogues while I followed along in the books. They seemed like games at the time. Little did I know how cunningly I was being taught.
I was a curious child: quick with questions and eager to learn. With acrobats and actors as my teachers, it is little wonder that I never grew to dread lessons as most children do."
- excerpt from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, copyright April 2007 by DAW Books
A few personal observations:
Paragraph 1 - I can hear the father's deep voice echoing off the back of the wagon in front of them and see a local straighten up in the middle of his morning chores to listen - spellbound.
Paragraph 2 - I can hear mother and son singing together to the strumming of an old, battered, but lovingly cared for, classical guitar (or in the case of the book - a lute.) Also, having read the book once already I can see the love in the eyes of Kvothe's mother and father as they recite those romantic dialogues ... and I know it is not all "acting." They care for each other deeply, as they did their son.
Paragraph 3 - How can I not yearn for the opportunity to learn at the feet of such a wide array of colorful and worldly-wise "teachers."