A Literary Triptych
To my delight, my Amazon package arrived early, skillfully evading the postal strike. Inside, three books to fill some quiet, thoughtful moments (I'm making more room for those in my life).
1. Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky A beautifully designed orange & blue gem cataloguing, with precise detail, 50 of the world's most isolated islands, complete with maps. Just reading the names out loud is enough to transport me.
“In the end, it is simply about grasping the extent of the earth, orienting it towards the north and being able to gaze down on it like a god. That is how an atlas’s supposedly objective view of the world is presented to us, with a scientific appeal to truth that does not shy away from calling a map of the earth a world map, as if no solar system or universe could exist beyond it.” —JS
2. Another Ventriloquist by Adam Gilders Canadian writer Adam Gilders described as "a virtuoso of the deadpan prose miniature", passed away from a brain tumour in 2007. He left behind more than 200 unpublished stories, which his close friends have collected into a concise volume brimming with off-beat observations, absurdities and razor-sharp wit.
"There is no escaping what is most obvious about your situation" —AG
3. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit When I placed the other two books in my online cart, Amazon insisted I get this book, and judging by the title and reviews I couldn't resist. It seemed like the perfect fit in this triptych. Solnit, an 'intellectual nomad', is fascinated by the myriad of ways in which people get lost. With this semi-autobiographical, loosely connected group of essays she encourages the reader to do the same.
"When someone doesn't show up, the people who wait sometimes tell stories about what might have happened and come to half believe the desertion, the abduction, the accident. Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don't--and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown. Perhaps fantasy is what you fill up maps with rather than saying that they too contain the unknown." —RS