By Edie Everette / Herald Forum
It took a power outage for me to buckle down and read an entire book last night.
It took a swerving, center-lane-crossing driver to hit a power pole on U.S. 2, knocking out electricity to more than 600 folks in the upper Sky Valley, to help me focus. I hope that driver and anyone involved is OK, but it took the possibility of me not being able to do anything else due to lack of electricity to enter another world. Not the quick, scrolling, dopamine-inducing world of face filter, dog rescue and lip-synching videos but a world that took hours to enter and absorb.
Every Sunday, back in my 20s and 30s, I would read an entire book. There were exceptions of course, such as James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” That novel took me an entire year to read, along with a study guide to help me understand it. I worked at a lunch counter in Seattle at the time and painted a shirt that said, “I am on page __ of Ulysses,” onto which I would pin a piece of paper with the page number to fill in the blank.
For a while I thought that graduate school turned me off to reading, all that postmodern crap that I imbibed. But now I realize that it was the advent of cell phones at about that same time that did the trick. How can we resist the seduction of the immediate gratification of … everything? I don’t know about you, but I could sit and listen to podcasts while playing Spider Solitaire for the rest of my life.
Not to mention Amazon Prime, Netflix and all the other movie streaming sites. Compared to television shows from my childhood and young adulthood, some of the movies and series streaming today are as rich as literature. The writing, acting, cinematography, directing and soundtracks of these shows are stellar. I personally love Nordic Noir.
After reading Harry Crews’ memoir “A Childhood: The Biography of a Place” that night by battery-powered lantern I shut my eyes and saw dozens of worm-like shapes wiggling toward me. The entire scene was in monochromatic red because my eyes had not been happy about reading so long in a dim light; yet my soul felt victorious. I can still read an entire book in one sitting!
Without a power outage, the stacks of books on my nightstand only grow taller. When I’m tired at the end of a work day and everyone is fed and the kitchen is cleaned and I climb into bed, well, I deserve to take it easy and look at my phone. Besides, reading is so … quiet.
What shall I read during the next power outage? After last night I have a much better attitude about them; at least when they don’t happen during wintertime.
Edie Everette is a writer, news junkie and lives in Monroe.