The Road to the Philosopher’s Stone

January 15, 2008 at 7:07 am (Uncategorized)

Yesterday I finished reading one book and started reading another. The first was Pulitzer Prize-winning The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and the second, as promised in an earlier post, was the first Harry Potter book by J. K. Rowling. Talk about a minor adjustment.

We’re reading The Road for this month’s bookclub, and I am actually busting now I’ve finished to find out what the other girls think about it, and for the first time I feel genuinely sorry that there are no men in our club. I’ll have to ask my friend’s husband what he thought – he’s the one who recommended it to her when it was her turn to choose the next book as we finished up last year.

In a word, grim. So grim. In its way possibly the grimmest tale I have ever read. It was utterly purgatorial in every way from start to finish. There were tears. I don’t make a habit of crying during the reading of a book, but it has happened to me in the past and it’s always a shock that isn’t at all the same thing as when a book makes me laugh out loud (as mercifully happens much more often). I sob rarely, but the thing with the crying I did over The Road is that I sobbed during the reading, finished it, and then sobbed again later – unheard of! I’ve never done that before. Llew loves the reflection shot in film; this was the reflection sob.

I was therefore so relieved to the point of genuine excitement to hop into bed last night and thumb open my first Harry Potter. You little ripper, I thought, this is just what I need to dislodge that sickening atmosphere of loss and misery. Bring it on, HP, lay that wizardry on me! And you know, there was a brief gap in my mind’s ability to shift gear. It didn’t just happen. My brain did not immediately cope with the change of scenery. I had to focus. I had to will myself into this so differently drawn world. Change of tenor, change of field, change of everything except the presence of a little boy.

It did happen before lights out, and I’m in Harry’s world now, happy to accept it as it is, for what it is and what it was clearly intended to be, but in the night The Road came back, it was there in the dark and it snuffed out my dreams. When I awoke this morning I felt wretched. Ambushed. Again I had to shake off that gloomy road before I could face the day, so I made a cup of tea and reached down to pick up young Harry once more.

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