Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Week of the Clenched Stomach

It started when I stayed up late last Sunday, reading some doom and gloom on the internet. Fortified by visions of a dire future, I trudged into a week in which:

Bombs went off. Chemicals exploded. The daughter crashed her car. Tech problems up-ended the husband's workweek. A friend's mom died. Thunder crashed. Streams flooded. The toddler got defiant. And finally, PMS.

You'd think I would appreciate a gentle book like And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran. But I avoided it. If it had been a book where bombs went off and thunder crashed, I probably couldn't have put it down.

Lusseyran grew up in Paris. He lost his sight in a childhood accident. After the initial shock and pain, he found himself endowed with something he described as "light." He gained a heightened sense of the objects around him, their smells, sounds, even the very pressure from the space they took up. His parents rose to the occasion, securing an education that fit him for the larger world. His friends held his arm and guided him along on their adventures. In short, God did not abandon Lusseyran to bleakness.

But I still felt no compulsion to read. His "light" was an intangible thing, harder to describe than smell. Really, how would you convey the scent of a carnation or of campfire smoke to someone who had never experienced it? If it's tough to describe, it's tough to read.

I've stuck with him now up to age eleven. I'll keep trying. World War II and his days in the French Resistance lie ahead, so surely I will stumble into suspense and adventure soon.

Look at me, wishing suspense and adventure on people in book-world, but not on people in real-world.

And furthermore, why don't stress-riven characters in books snitch Peanutty Chocolate Cookies, like I did all week?

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