Amanda Miska and Jayme Cawthern

Jayme Cawthern, untitled
Inspiration Piece

The Bibliophile Files
by Amanda Miska


A conversation from the floor of a living room that looks more like a small library, every wall lined with books.

“I can’t believe you’ve never read Narnia.”
“I haven’t read Harry Potter either.  I’m a literary leper.”
“They’re actually really well-written.”
“Just never been big on the sci-fi fantasy genre.  Even as a kid.  Reality is weird enough for me.”
“But that’s the point of reading:  to escape reality.”
“That’s one purpose, maybe.  But I don’t think we ever really escape.  We just bring our own junk along for the ride.”
“Maybe.  At least, the baggage we can carry.”
“You know what I always wanted?”
“Besides me.”
“One of those bookshelves with the secret compartment behind it.  Like the movies…”
“A place to plot world domination without being bothered?”
“Well, no.  More like…Alice in Wonderland.  I imagined there was a world behind my bookshelf, and whichever book I picked up would open the door to that universe.”
“You sure you’ve never read Narnia?”
“I’ve read a synopsis.  I’ve been part of the reading world.  I’m a huge C.S  Lewis fan, it’s just that I missed them when I was a kid, and now I keep accruing literary debt.  I have lists everywhere—on the back page of every notebook, on post-its around the house, in the back cover of other books I read…”
“Me too. A lot of them come from you. But back to your wonderland.  I’m intrigued.”
“So you’d pull out a book, any book, and that’s the world that would open for you.”
“We could finally afford to travel overseas like you’ve always wanted.”
“But where would we start?”
“I think we might have some trouble deciding.”
“Let’s limit ourselves to…this shelf.  It’s alphabetized?”
“Was alphabetized.  Until you came along with all those heavy boxes.”
“Did you ever notice how many duplicates we have?”
“Maybe those are the only places we can both go at once.”
“Okay.  Looks like…Kundera and Lewis have doubles.
“Do we want to experience unbearable lightness or be surprised by joy?
“I think we’ve already experienced both.  This one’s obvious:  Czechoslovakia, here we come.”
“How would we enter the world of a great theologian anyway?”
“I never thought it through that far.  I guess…a little like Being John Malkovich?”
“Being C.S. Lewis?”
“We’d be in his head. Also interesting terrain.”
“Maybe a little less scenic.”
“You knew I’d choose Czechoslovakia before we even started this game.”
“Because that’s what I would choose.”
“What is it?”
“Another uncertainty.  Will we enter the world and meet the characters…”
“…or will we become them?”
“In the case of the latter, I vote we check out the inner workings of Mr. Lewis instead.  Save Czechoslovakia for our 25th wedding anniversary.”
“If you can stand my bad jokes for that long.”
“Let’s think this through.”
“Could we go to only a certain section or chapter?”
“Good point.”
“I wouldn’t mind meeting you again for the first time.”
“But I wouldn’t be me.”
“Who would you be?”
“I thought maybe Tereza, but she’s kind of tragic.  I’m thinking Sabine.”
“Two words:  bowler hat.”
“Is she really any less tragic?”
“No.  And your character is certainly far from Tomas.”
“But the bowler hat?”
“I’m ignoring you. So let’s say we just enter their worlds in the story as minor characters.”
“Tour the city a bit, have a cup of strong coffee, nap in some tiny hotel room…”
“Maybe Tereza will take our picture on the street corner, holding hands.”
“I think she’ll be too busy taking pictures of tanks and things.”
“Oh, I forgot about tanks.  Not the most relaxed time period to enter into that world.”
“How about that walk then…and a nap…in our world?”
“It’s not Europe.”
“But it’s real.  And it’s ours.”


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One Comment

  1. Posted September 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm | #

    Love both pieces! I’ve had several of these conversations in my younger years that were just as magical as the trip itself. . . . 🙂