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Roving Eyes


An old copy of the Writer's Handbook lies around the house – fat and forlorn – moving from room to room. It's read some, then left to lie for days (on end), a poor cousin to the Lolitas that rest in peace in their rightful places, mission accomplished, been read fully. Just when hopes fade, another day, another chapter, another hiatus. When sought, it tries to satisfy: a Proulx boldly predicting that no computer will ever replace the book; a Sheldon lobbing softballs at himself. Or a Micheal Dirda asking, “One or Many?”

Yes, one or many? As in, the number of books one reads in a lifetime.

Allegiant one-book wonder (no, not Harper Lee, she was a one book wonder), repeat reader, verbatim quoter of lines, paragraphs and pages. Not whole chapters, those I haven't seen. Predictability has virtues: None of this (or this) to scar vulnerable psyches.

Or desultory wanderer, sampling wares from all over? Remembering little (or so it feels), quoting even less. No names in memory (‘cept Vernon and Ignatius). Left with mere aftertastes from each book – some sweet, some spicy; some good; some not so good; all lifelong.

Knowing Quoyle, but not Ignatius? Yes to Bellow, but no to Marquez? Easy call to make: No thanks.

Here's a hard one – One or many? At one time, that is.