Yesterday morning I finished reading "Are We Smart Enough To Know How Smart Animals Are?"
As I'm sure you recall, I tried reading this puppy after finishing "Infinite Jest" but my brain rebelled. It was just too bruised.
So I skipped on to "Bridge of Sighs" which was enormously comforting. Richard Russo, man - he is officially on my list of go to writers when I need to catch my breath. Have read a couple of his books and they are balm for the battered soul.
Anyway I grabbed up "Smart Enough" after BOS and gobbled it up. My brain had healed.
Parts of it were dry - it was written by a scientist - actually the back cover describes him as an ethologist and a primatologist which is a somewhat incomprehensible yet heavy duty description - but overall it supported my position that animals are sacred and should be treated so.
There is a hell of a lot more to the book than that, but overall it was in sync with my view of the animal world, complete with a thinly veiled disdain for humanity.
One fact surfaced towards the end of the book that disturbed me. And I quote: "Brains are the most 'expensive' organs around. They are true energy hogs, using twenty times more calories per unit than muscle tissue."
I have gained around five pounds since I retired.
What does this mean?
Moving on, I picked up "All The Pretty Horses" by Cormac McCarthy this morning. And was immediately plunged into the all too familiar comfort zone that good literature provides for me.
It is such an emotional thing for me. I won't belabor the point because I do it constantly in here, but when you recognize something that brings peace to your soul you gotta roll with it.
And roll I do.
McCarthy is one of "those" authors - much celebrated. I have read other of his books and enjoyed them.
The book is set out west in 1949 and revolves around two kids - around sixteen years old - who decide to shake up their lives and run off to Mexico. They come from ranching families and the book catches the tail end of a cowboy culture. They are on horseback.
I know nothing of this life. Still, as I read this morning I felt a longing to be them. To take off on a mad adventure, to live in a simpler world of hard work, hard knocks and no fucking "smart" phones.
This is what good literature does.
And the writing. Holy shit, the writing.
Dig this: "His father rode sitting slightly forward in the saddle, holding the reins in one hand about two inches above the saddlehorn. So thin and frail, lost in his clothes. Looking over the country with those sunken eyes as if the world out there had been altered or made suspect by what he'd seen of it elsewhere. As if he might never see it right again. Or worse did see it right at last. See it as it had always been, would forever be."
What committed reader could read those words and not see their own life, their own perceptions in them?
At least people of a certain age.
How could anyone possibly read those words and not stop in amazement to think about their own life, to examine their own perspective, maybe suddenly realize a truth that has been gnawing at them in a vague way?
Jesus Christ I live for this shit.
Here's the problem. This book is Volume 1 of a trilogy known as "The Border Trilogy." I have no choice now but to pick up the other two.
And the really fun fact is I picked this book at random. I had some time to kill in Concord and wandered into Gibson's Bookstore, which is becoming a delicious habit.
Walked to the used book rack and grabbed the book because I know the author. Did not know it was part of a trilogy. Could have been Volume 2 or Volume nothing for all I knew.
My week has started off pretty well.