Monday, February 19, 2007

One (or more) for the road

I learned a good lesson there. It often pays when traveling to take along something familiar. I keep a separate shelf in my study for what I think of as "comfort books." These are the texts that I know will keep me happy in strange or awkward settings. At my age now, rereading is often preferable to reading, so I have a small number of deeply loved books that I can rely on. Among the volumes on this shelf are One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez, and the poems of Robert Frost. I can always find more than enough comfort and satisfaction, even challenge, in those pages to get me through a difficult day or two. Márquez, a master of whimsicality, always lifts me into a zone somewhere beyond reality, but nevertheless grounded as well. The poems of Frost, which I know so well, always remind me of home — not a literal place, of course, but the home of language so perfectly aligned with my own sense of the world.

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