Don Quixote

Books are powerful objects. Magical, even. In the right moments, with the right book, time and space upends. This doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you must read as thief — scour your Joyces and Woolfs for inspiration.

As I read “Don Quixote” time folded in. It’s not that I found myself in the land of Sancho and Rocinante, rather, I was in the company of my grandfather. Clifford — I called him Pa, others called him Angel — has been skiing on the other side for some time, yet, as clear as day, he roamed the pages of Cervantes’ great two-parter. Sometimes as Sancho, sometimes as Quixote. Occasionally, he just sat with me and delighted in the courage and missteps of our hero, Alonso.

Two scenes come to mind, the most romantic in that most romantic book. When Sancho buried his face in the curls of his trusted Dapple after facing the harsh realities of mankind’s brutal unkindness, I felt Pa’s guidance. A tender directive. Why govern a city if you have cheap whiskey (or ginger ale) and the kinship of friends and lovers?

And of course, Quixote’s insistence on fighting a lion. The beauty in stubbornness, something my bloodline is full of. In these moments Pa made sure I looked closer and remembered that everyone’s lions are different. I suppose mine is writing. Everyday I look at this thing and beg it to devour me.

Reading can confront us with our own mortality, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, confuse that finality.

Read books and remember loved ones are there even when they’re not.

Moby Dick

I read the first few pages walking home from the library. An uncommon, welcome, summer rain followed me as I read. It’s a beautiful book. If you’re not ready to dive in Tilda Swinton will read you the first chapter. If that doesn’t excite you then we probably won’t see eye-to-eye on most things.

Melville’s prose has the power to overwhelm you. He stretches it to its complete limit and then a little farther. It’s biblical and thumping — rhythmic and prophetic. I’d read that McCarthy was influenced by Melville and it’s clear in Blood Meridian. The color and breath of the words, the impossible characterizations. Yes, I think overwhelming is the right word.

I fell in love with Queequeg as I was falling in love with my fiancée. She suggested it, took me to see an opera based on it. Her and the Pequod are inseparable — knotted together in my memories. Often, when I feel that “drizzly November in my soul” I think back to the beauty of that book and the magic circumstances that brought me to it. Moby Dick will always be a wonderful place for me to visit.

Read it.