There are books which are too powerful, or which are too powerfully effective. I was reading such a book just a few minutes ago – but I won’t name it – about miserable people, leading miserable aimless lives in a gray and dismal country thousands of miles away. It is sunny here, and warm, as though we had skipped spring and gone straight to a gentle haziness of summer. After reading some of these stories, though, the sky – still blue and bright – seemed grayer than it had been, as though it were threatening rain.1 My life, satisfactory until thirteen pages ago, seemed pointless, weary, a waste, directionless; the lives of my friends had no space in them for me any longer – as indeed why should they have room for anything so completely useless.
I was about to settle well in to my wretchedness (which I had no doubt soundly deserved), and picked up the book for another installment of misery, hoping to raise my spirits. The book seemed lighter than before. Happier almost. As though it took joy in trapping me into a dark and squalid corner of my life that I had not known existed. I put the book down and felt instantly better. I write this to you now as a warning. Don’t trust the book. I haven’t time to say more – I must dispose of the book, after all – but don’t trust it. Keep away from it if you can. Please.
- Which, despite the apparent warmth of the day, would have fallen as snow. [↩]