Perhaps like alcohol, reading can immerse the mind in worlds that don’t exist. Finding comfort in the drinking in of pages till the bottom of bottle glistens with the last drop of story.
I’ve picked out Carson McCullers’ The Heart is a Lonely Hunter just for pleasure, a smooth fine wine against the necessarily acquired taste of Joyce’s scotch. I read ten pages before I’d walked across the room and settled on the couch–the characters, the place, the world all laid before me so easily that I was no longer in my own living room huddled with a novel, but in the flowing, swirling noisy world around two deaf-mutes and couldn’t hear a sound.
But the two mutes were not lonely at all. At home they were content to eat and drink, and Singer would talk with his hands eagerly to his friend about all that was in his mind. So the years passed in this quiet way until Singer reached the age of thirty-two and had been in the town with Antonapoulos for ten years. (p. 4)
The picture McCullers draws is so softly intrigueing we are part of it before we understand that. There are no longer two friends here, there are three. We do not know what’s coming yet, but have stood by Singer’s side and felt his love, know his depth of caring, somehow want some for ourselves as well as wanting to care that much for someone else.