I was sitting on the throne in the water closet of my literary lair when it came to me…I have just read the second best book in my entire life. This is not a circumstance of triviality given the amount of reading I engage in. I have inherited a trait from my Dear Departed Uncle Buddy. He read voraciously and was the most intelligent person in the cosmos. The family used to joke that he would read matchbook covers if nothing else was available. I have followed in his footsteps and read every word I can get my eyes on. Reading originally inspired me to want to write. Reading brought me to the point where I intruded on your day by asking (well maybe demanding, but that’s another page) you to read the musings in front of you. Reading is the method I use to bring myself closer to the world outside my Sanctum. And finally, reading is the avenue I take on my way to a better understanding of the Lord God Almighty as he chooses to be a presence in my life.
The tome I am referring to is a magnificent piece of historical fiction written by Ken Follet entitled “Fall of Giants.” It is the story of a number of families from different backgrounds and their experience in World War I. I call this the second best book I have ever read but that is a misnomer. My favorite is “Pillars of the Earth” by the same author. The sequel to this book “World Without End” is also a must read if you read the first and, as such, is the same book in my mind.
I have a love of history and the general flavor of most history books leaves one dry and thirsty for more. In the case of a historical fiction there is a personalization to the great events in our past that speaks to me. Most of what we here about history is probably fiction in the first place. Realistically, there are no first hand witnesses to much of what happened many years ago, and when we do encounter first-hand accounts, those are usually infused with more personal opinion then actualities. A good historical fiction author takes that part of the story that has endured and gives it a face.
I like talking to a dear friend of mine about Vietnam. He was there twice and considering we were both in the army around the same time, it makes sense to me in the context of my own personal experiences. I loved talking to my Dear Sainted Mother about World War II. I remember being taught about the “Rosey the Riveter” women from that war in history class. My Màthair was one. My favorite story from her was how she was fired from a job at a cigarette factory for throwing cigarettes out the back window to the hobos by the train tracks behind her factory. History became alive for me when I talked to her or my uncles and aunts.
So the issue I am now dealing with is what is next. I am still living in the glow of a better understanding of the “War to end all wars”, and an appreciation of the complexity that went into that famous catastrophe. What is the next book that I chose from the stack on my table? Is it the latest from an author whose main character is a “symbologist”, or a telling of the ancient origins of the leprechaun? The issue is that I do not want to exasperate myself. What is the answer? Do I let this one sit and ruminate? That only denies me the magic that is available in that action of reading. That denies me the stimulation I need to dazzle you with words. What to do? Perhaps I can let go of expectations and just close my eyes and pick one.
Short page today. It looks like I have some questions to answer that cannot be found at the keyboard. It is my eyes that must do the labor. What is a “symbologist” anyway?