The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

28.06.02 – Friday

‘I can always tell when you’re reading somewhere in the house,’ my mother used to say. ‘There’s a special silence, a reading silence.’ I never heard it, this extra degree of hush that somehow travelled through walls and ceilings to announce that my seven-year-old self had become about as absent as a present person could be. The silence went both ways. As my concentration on the story in my hands took hold, all sounds faded away. My ears closed. Flat on my front with my chin in my hands or curled in a chair like a prawn, I’d be gone. I didn’t hear doorbells ring, I didn’t hear supper time called, I didn’t notice footsteps approaching of the adult who’d come to retrieve me.

—Francis Spufford, ‘The Habit’
Granta 77, p. 143


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