#3 On Reading Middlesex
Strolling through the aisles of Half Price Books
the paperback spines reach out to my fingers,
which reach back and stroke the titles
looking for one to strike my interest
No New York Times bestsellers
never, ever Oprah's Book Club
Yellow with red letters, ORCB font
plain, no pictures, large, large words
One word titles are intriguing,
I usually look at the first few pages.
I often don't like titles that begin with "The".
I always judge a book by its cover,
though now, with re-releases and anniversary editions,
the covers mean less and less --
but I'd still rather hold in my hand
the sterile white and loopy handwriting
of Kundera in a British printing
than the obnoxious block letters
of the American one.
But the details, the plot are what I'm reading for;
a terrible title and awful cover can be redeemed
by insight, eloquence, or humor
It seems, though, that I have the uncanny ability
to find out the strange characters on the bookshelves:
hermaphrodites, transsexuals, transvestites,
serial killers, alcoholics, journalists,
leaving me shocked and appalled every time -- not delightfully so,
at least not at the initial discovery.
Am I engaged in a subconscious search for my true identity,
that I can only read about the identity searches of others?
Perhaps I am mistaken,
but books serve to deliver us from reality --
why then, are the pages all filled with "true" stories,
dramatized versions of "real life"?
The stories, more often than not, turn out on the upper end of mediocre --
predictable, pedestrian, prefabricated --
and I think, with the next book I read,
I want a more traditional character,
one hailing from the old standards, the classics --
one with some semblance of stereotypical normalcy.