Journal » Trout 17 » Cubbyhole [2] [Peter Wells]
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Cubbyhole [2]

Peter Wells


Driving home I listened to the unlikeliest suspect – Keith Richards – talk about his library and his love of books. I'd already had a slight contretemps with a fellow writer who simply did not believe Richards wrote his own memoir which I was enjoying on audiobook as I drove the five hours up the North Island from Napier to Auckland. I explained the use of language was too individual for a ghost writer. Memory was also recalled too trenchantly for it to have that weightless glide of a ghostwriter.

Richards loved books (and I think this showed in his intricate language and cave-like memory). His library was a special place to him and quite naively he told his readers the kind of books he liked (naval history, imperial history). I have never got over the image of the infamous one-time smack addict Rolling Stone standing to attention in Moscow when he saw on television some reference to the scout movement and quite sincerely he gave a scout salute to honour Baden-Powell. We're all mad mixtures, in other words, Richards being renegade and ex-scout.


I live with another writer and we have books all over the house. In fact I feel pursued by books. We have just changed the interior of the house around and books are still chasing us. We have a library, a very beautiful room which is almost square. It is sedately lined with books, a kind of cell. But we have many many more books and there are bookshelves in every room of the house apart from the bathrooms and toilets. There are books by the bed, books on the table, books in bookcases, books in bookshelves, behind glass, on 18th century tables, on the floor, in cartons, in trunks.


Yet I still can't find 'anything' to read. I don't know if this is just the state of someone who has finished a book and had to read mountains of text. (I usually read The New Yorker each week, as much for its prose style as content.) But as for books …. I am finding it really hard. A friend sent me 'The Volga Rises in Europe' by Curzio Malaparte 'Best-selling author of THE SKIN and KAPUTT' the ancient and raddled cover tells me. I took four books back to the library today, one of which I glanced through (a picture book), the other a highly praised local novel which I took out of the library on the principle that if I held it in my hand long enough I would transmit into my interior all its knowledge.


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© Copyright 2012 Peter Wells & Trout.