Last week I wrote about my inability to enter the world of the novel, Gilead. I was disappointed because the book is beautifull written and well received. And yet, try as I might through forty pages, I was unable to enter the fictional world created by the author and thus I eventually gave up and put the book aside.
This past weekend, I spent a very enjoyable two days tearing through the pages of The Piano Teacher. The author captured my imagination with the first pages and I was happy to continue the journey to the end of the book even though the plot itself is fairly predictable. The weekend before, I had similar good luck when I read Astrid and Veronika, a novel that will stay with me longer than any other I've read recently simply because I related so closely to the intimately revealed characters and how intricately their relationship and their secrets are drawn through the pages of the novel.
And so this morning as I was driving to work I thought of my very different experiences of reading Gilead versus The Piano Teacher and as I did last Friday I wondered why....why was I drawn into one book as opposed to the other, both well-written. We could argue that Piano was more plot driven and Gilead relied more on the reader's ability to go slowly enough to develop a relationship with the characters. But, Astrid &Veronika had much the same character dependent tempo so that can't be it. Of course, I wanted to blame it on the author, one's ability to capture the attention in the first few pages, while the other asked for more time.
In the end, however, I believe there is another component, what I will call a 'book of the moment'. By this I mean that there are some books that we find or which find us at just the right time in our lives they fill a need or answer a question. And there are other books that come at the wrong time, our minds are simply not ready or willing to accept the invitation offered through the opening pages. These books must either be forgotten, or laid aside and left for another day, another place, another perspective that will only come with time and perhaps a change in circumstance. I imagine reading Gilead when I am sitting on the deck of my house out west, looking at the mountains, and there its spirit will be captured by my own right setting and right moment. And it will become the book of the moment.