Rebel without a clause

Maybe I am a bit of a rebel. When I pick up a book to decide whether or not I like it, I don’t look at the first paragraph, I just dip in. I’m a bit like that with life. I’d rather have a go at it than research what equipment I need and what it will cost me. I want to get started right away with whatever tools or near approximation I have lying about the place. And so I am with books. It’s by a woman, the title is intriguing, I feel drawn to the cover. Go on, open it, slap bang in the middle. Read a sentence or two. Does it flow? Do I enjoy the sound it makes in my head? Do the words make me see something? Oh yes, and I have a fondness for slim books. Is that sizist of me? Alexander Mcall Smith would probably describe me as being of “traditional build” so you would expect me to have an affinity with larger tomes. This is not the case because inside me is a slim, beautifully crafted person trying to escape. Slim is beautiful as far as I am concerned, so much so that I am filled with joy at the sight and thought of what others consider to be anorexic or “not normal”, namely the short story.

Looking at books on my shelf, “The Ha Ha” by Jennifer Dawson pushes all the right buttons. For a start it is an old Virago issue, well-turned out in its 2nd hand but cared for bottle-green school uniform. It is slim, it has a title which immediately conjures up a picture for me. I can see my son’s friend suddenly dsappearing from view because we hadn’t quite reached the end of our explanation of this landscape feature. He fell, we all fell about laughing. He was not amused.

I’ve digressed and that is something that I enjoy in books as much as I do in conversation.


2 Responses to “Rebel without a clause”

  1. Harriet Says:

    Good for you. Sounds like the right approach to me.

  2. Simon Says:

    Exactly the approach I take, Ruth – open, read a few lines, make a judgement. Lots of writers will spend weeks perfecting the first line, but an arbitrary page is a better indicator of whether or not the book will be enjoyable. And I too prefer short books, but I think this is because I list the ones I read, and want the list to be very long…

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