Monday, November 4, 2013

Literary Lachrymose

I've written before about crying in the movies.

Rarer, I think is crying while reading a book.

There's something about the enveloping scope of film that, at least for me, encompasses my emotions to the extent that I can give myself over to tears.

It's imagery, yes, but also music and tone and performances and color and movement.

Words on a page are captivating, make no mistake. And I've certainly been taken to another place and time while in the pages of a book.

But there's something about reading that makes me less likely to cry while doing it.

Now laughter, that seems to come easier. I remember receiving a copy of David Sedaris book Holiday on Ice at a work-related Pollyanna one Christmas. I opened it down in the bowels of the SEPTA train station on my way home that evening and dove into The Santaland Diaries. And before I had turned even a half-dozen pages, I was stifling a smile.

And then a short chuckle.

And before long, I was stuffing my fist in my mouth, trying not to appear like a lunatic in public.

It was a tough battle, I can tell you.

But when it comes to shedding tears, I can honestly think of exactly two books that have sent me over.

The first one might seem strange considering the author is horror-meister Stephen King.

But that one was The Green Mile.

For those of you who don't recall its literary beginnings, The Green Mile was a serial novel, in the style of Charles Dickens, who wrote and released chapters in tandem, over time. The Green Mile came out in a chain of short books, as King doled out his story piecemeal.

The conclusion came out while we were on a family beach vacation, and I can remember dashing to a bookstore on the boardwalk to snag a copy and find out the fate of hulking inmate John Coffey and sympathetic warden Paul Edgecomb.

And when I placed my hand once again in King's and read where he took me... my eyes just overflowed.

In a setting that could not have been less conducive to crying: At a crowded New Jersey beach with hundreds of sunbathers, swimmers, families, ice cream hawkers, walkers, talkers and gawkers.

The other book to push me to tears was, not surprisingly, Marley and Me. John Grogan's account of his goofy and loveable Lab was a must-read for someone with his own goofy and loveable Lab. But the ending was gut-wrenching.

That's it. Over a lifetime of reading, exactly two books have caused me to cry with emotion.

Now if we want to talk books that bored me to tears, that's another conversation...

No comments:

Post a Comment