Monday, March 4, 2013

"Killing Me Softly"

"...[someone] says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it's an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside of us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more and more scarce by the day."

~ Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind

I finished reading The Shadow of the Wind early yesterday and have been rolling words and phrases around in my head trying to figure out how to blog about this book I have come to love. Does that mean you'll love it? Well, that depends. I learned long ago that what suits one reader does not always suit another. I decided that the quote above says a great deal about what I am going to try to say about this book and the kind of readers who will like it, but I'll get to that in a minute.

First, I'd like to say that I read some other people's reviews of The Shadow of the Wind. I've also viewed a few book trailers (none of which I would recommend), and I even watched one person's video blog review. The guy who did it seemed a bit too...well,....too pompous (to be honest) for my taste. His review made the book seem too complicated. (He reminded me of what it's like when you get too many high school English teachers in one room to discuss Shakespeare.) Zafon's book has fabulous twists and turns, but it isn't that complicated...if you're a "great reader."

Now, about the quote. Please read the quote above again. Ask yourself, "Am I a great reader?" Be honest. Is reading an intimate ritual for you? What do you carry inside of you? Do you read with all your heart and mind? Please don't act like it is a silly question because I have found that it isn't. You may read well, you may have a high vocabulary, you may read at the speed of sound, and retain everything your eyes see,...but that doesn't make you a "great reader" by the inferred definition in the quote. Think about it.

Keeping all this in mind, I offer you this as an honest review:

If you are a great reader this book will delight you, ensnare you, piss you off, make you melancholy, frustrate you, and satisfy you. It will reveal truths to your mind that your heart already knew. It will remind you of what is good in this world...and what is horrible. You will find a great mystery to be solved, and you will find a story inside a story. It is about all the things you wish for, but are afraid to believe in (but, truth be told, you do believe and are afraid to find out it doesn't exist at all). It will give your busy mind something to figure out and give your soul something it desperately needs. Trust me on this.

If you read my previous blog, where I decided to stop and take a break from the book, you know that something I carry inside of me was touched very deeply by things I read in this book. There seemed to be too many coincidences to things I have experienced in my own life. Not on a literal level, but on a figurative one. At the point I decided to stop and take a break, I turned to the back of the book and wrote myself a note:

Either Fate continues to play a cruel joke on me, or I have fallen victim to a spell cast with borrowed words,...and it causes my heart to ache and my soul to rage...

As I sat there looking at my own words, and feeling a bit surreal, my memory grasped for the lyrics from a song that spoke of a stranger who sang about a woman's life. I remembered the lyrics and the melody to "Killing Me Softly," and I realized just how personal the story felt to me. It had nothing to do with the setting or the actual characters. It had everything to do with what is at the heart of the book,...and what is at the heart of all our lives when we choose to look deep enough.

When I decided to pick the book up again to finish, you can imagine my surprise when I found these words much later on in the book:

"Julian once wrote that coincidences are the scars of fate. There are no coincidences, Daniel. We are puppets of our own subconscious desires."


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