After a long, long time I landed up at the library, doing something that I had promised myself I would do when I was busy slogging for CAT, endsems, whatever. All the good fiction seemed to be busy resting in other people's rooms, only classics and books with bound, boring covers seemed to have been left behind. Still found a couple of books that looked interesting, a couple of Anita Desais, one Milan Kundera that I had never seen or heard of before and a strange looking book that I picked up only because it seemed interesting. The story started right from the cover of the book and continued inside, right from the inside of the cover.
Its called You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers. I've never heard of him before. I picked it up and along with six or seven other books, carried it to a table and settled down. Luckily for me, it was the book on top ...
Am halfway through now, I like it when authors try to be different, this has pictures of a hand-written note, three small cars that pass the author by in a line, are three little pictures in the middle of a sentence. There's no high-handedness, a simple description of the places Hand and Will go to, and conversations that Will keeps having inside his head with strangers that he passes, people he meets, Hand.
I love the way he describes everything, its like travelling on your own, something that I've always wanted to do. To realize and recognize at every instant, the texture of the things you encounter, the views, a point of view far removed, that feeling when you have nothing in common but an objective view of everything. The thoughts in your head echo loudly and there's a clarity, a clear-headedness unmarred by any kind of conversation or interruption, a sense of being free and alone. Like the protagonists from Possession, all they wanted was a single sunlit room with clean, white bedsheets. A calm, quiet sense of happiness and contentment, mild curiosity and that satisfying sense of anonymity.
I like the conversations that the narrator conducts, I find it unsettling when I talk to myself and find answers coming back that I don't expect or when random sentences that you read somewhere long ago hang around the confines of your mind and make up thoughts that you feel someone else is putting in your head.
He describes falling asleep in the sun, on the beach, with the sun shining warmly, swimming lazily in the ocean and his sudden realization that he must leave the water quickly, or he might think it's a comforting, resting place and find his way to death. He thinks that must be the reason why so many people die in seas and oceans; more than drowning, they probably drift off to sleep.
The textures he describes took me away to a far away world, the squelching of sand under your toes, the warmth of the sun, warm water lapping around you, the floaty feeling that remains behind after spending too much time in water ...
One day, I shall travel and write my thoughts down, in a similar fashion, inshallah. If not for anybody else, for me. To preserve that clarity and that sense of living in a world that's yours, but at the same time belongs to everyone else except you.