Thursday, October 13, 2016

Story 156: Breaking Up With a Book

(Note: I have been watching a lot of Parks and Recreation lately)

(Scene: A reading room in a public library.  Reader sits at one of the tables and bites her nails while her eyes dart around; several other patrons are scattered throughout the room, reading and working.  Book strolls through the library and sits across from Reader: he is wearing an oversized book cover on his back and a long cloth bookmark is attached to the top of his head.  Reader looks guiltily at him as he sits)
Book: So.  You haven’t opened me in months.
Reader: Yeah, about that –
Book: And I see that you chose a public place to meet with me.  The very first place that we met, as I recall: this is where they held that book sale to benefit the high school chess team, if I’m not mistaken.
Reader: That’s great; you see –
Book: That was a magical moment for both of us.  You, casually skimming through paperbacks that mean nothing to no one; me, sitting in a cardboard box, waiting for that one special reader to discover me.  And then, you did.
Reader: Yes, yes, I –
Book: I even remember your first words to me were: “I always wanted to read you.”  And I always wanted to be read, by someone just like you.
Reader: Would you listen?!  (Several patrons look disapprovingly at her; Book shushes her and she lowers her voice) Look, we need to talk.
Book: Oh, do we?  Do we?!  Heh-heh, “Dewey.”  (Reader looks confusedly at him) Decimal.  (He chuckles some more, then glares at her)
Reader: Look, I tried.  You have to believe me when I say I tried so hard to finish you.  (Book looks away from her) It wasn’t you, it was me!  I just never – got – you.
Book: Hm.  Apparently not.  Some of us require more effort when the reward is all the greater.  Still, I suppose I expected too much from a modern reader.
Reader: Ugh!
Book: Yes my dear, back when I was written, it was a more enlightened time if you will, where people thought and felt things much more deeply than they do today.  I should have known better than to put my faith in a dilettante.
Reader: Excuse me?!
Book: You heard me, you’re a faux reader!
Reader: I am too a real reader!  You’re a faux classic!
Book: (Hisses) How dare you!
Reader: (Yells in a loud whisper) The only reason a total of three teachers in the entire world assign you to their classes is because they hate their students!  You take 2,000 pages to say what could have been said in 10!  You’re obtuse, I say, obtuse!
Book: So speaks someone who barely got past the introduction!
Reader: I skipped the introduction!  (Book’s jaw drops open) It’s a waste of time and it assumes that we’ve already read the story so it gives away the ending!  What’s the point?!
Book: It provides important historical background and offers a deeper appreciation of the text – what is wrong with you?!
Reader: Well, bottom line is: I tried, and I hated.  I hated you, there I said it, I’m sorry, but facts are facts and I will never get back all the hours I spent trying to decipher your narrative techniques, your constantly changing points-of-view, and your mind-boggling chronology.
Book: I was written by one of the greatest minds in Western literature –
Reader: Said no one ever; oh wait, I stand corrected, there was one person who said that: the author!  (She stands to leave) I truly am sorry it had to come to this, you seem like a nice tome and all, but you leave me no choice: I’m donating you back to the library.
Book: (Falls on his knees and clutches Reader’s hands) Wait, I beg you, don’t send me back there!  I’ll do anything – I’ll tear out all the pages you don’t like and we’ll start over again abridged, whaddya say?
Reader: (Stares coldly at Book) It’s not the length, it’s what’s on the pages that’s the problem.
Book: (Cries) Please don’t leave me here!  You’re the only Reader I’ve had in centuries!
Reader: It’s too late for all of that.  I can invest no more of my reading time on you, and absolutely nothing can be done for it.
Book: (Gasps) Is there – another book?
Reader: Of course there is, there’s dozens of other books, I read all the time!
Book: (Stands and slowly spits out) Floozy.  (Reader rolls her eyes and looks at her watch)  Those “bestsellers,” those “book club picks,” those “award winners” – they’re all arbitrary labels that signify nothing!
Reader: Are you almost finished?  `Cause this is taking about as long as trying to read your first chapter.
Book: Oh, I’m finished, all right.  (He strides to the circulation desk) Now if you’ll excuse me, I will deposit myself into the donation bin and save you the trouble.  (He jumps into the bin with a loud crash and looks at his back)  I hope you’re happy: I just cracked my spine.
Reader: Then you should thank me – somebody may buy you again now that it looks like you’ve actually been read!  (She stops a patron heading towards the bin) Never pick up a classic on a whim – it only leads to heartache.  (She exits, muttering to herself)
Book: (Sings) One book/ Book for sale/ He’s going cheap/ Only seven cents….

No comments:

Post a Comment