I like walking in the rain for a simple reason: I like the sensation of droplets colliding with my skin, like tiny wet kisses. Rain can’t be drawn or bought; it just is. But if I were to tell you a story about it, I would say that my pointy noise and rather cacklsome laugh as a child provoked the nickname ‘witch’. Walking in the rain, as any believer of fiction will know, means I can’t possibly be a witch: I don’t melt.
Books (though only catastrophically in the rain) are another great pleasure. Through books I learn, travel, see, and feel. The turn of a phrase can be devastating, exhilirating, alientating, incarcerating, intoxicating, liberating… in books I discover my many selves, and (in the fleeting moment of reading) understand them. I inhabit words – climbing inside sentences to find a link to and other heart, another mind. Words consume me, too – they swallow me up, gnaw on me, make me sick, feverish, aroused, defeated, awake. Reading is a physiological endeavour, the words acting as jump lead between the battery of my mind and the spark of my body. Writers, though mainly pairs of words themselves, make me: with Sarah Hall I’m carnal; with Carol Shields I long; with Jon McGregor I become the beauty of silence; in Siri Hustvedt’s hands I am the future self I desire; at Nick Walker’s hands I’m witty and sexy; Pratchett makes me corrupt; Tolkien induces hope for another time; Hornby weaves me into pop culture; Atwood makes me float above the surface of my life; and Auster buries me in the sadistic satisfaction of self-reflection. The price of a paperback is one thing, but what’s the price of a compulsion for words?