Thursday, June 10, 2010

Kevin Sampsell, On Reading

"The other day, right before my weekend began, I starting thinking about what I wanted to do with my days off. My social calendar was free--no parties or readings to go to--and no assignments to finish. I could start on my next big writing project, a novel I keep procrastinating on, but something else tugged on my heart stronger. Chopping away at the big forest of books that I have scattered around the home. That's right--I like reading more than I like writing.

I thought about it and confronted myself with a question: If I could do anything with my time--if I was the LAST PERSON ALIVE ON EARTH!--what would I do? The answer, perhaps boring and predictable: I'd want to read. Buildings could be crumbling around me and fires engulfing clothing stores and I'd probably just be looking for a comfortable couch to lay on with some Nabakov (who I still have not read yet!) or some Daniel Clowes comics. Sure, I'd go to the neighborhood DVD rental place and scavenge through the wreckage for good movies each day too--but even with movies, my main focus and source of enjoyment comes from how the writer, director, and actors tell a story. I watch movies to see how visual stories are built.

But most of the time would be spent reading. I'd even walk around neighborhoods and towns (like the man and boy in Cormac McCarthy's The Road) and break into people's houses just to see their books. Maybe I'd lounge on their sofa or rock in their rocking chair and read things that I never thought I'd read--Louis L'Amour or Stephanie Meyer--while I ate whatever non-perishable food they had. Maybe I'd discover something new and alive and beautiful. I would laugh and cry. I would read the best lines out loud, just to startle the silence. Makes Doomsday sound kind of okay."

Kevin Sampsell is the editor of the anthology Portland Noir, the publisher of Future Tense Books, and the author of Creamy Bullets and A Common Pornography. Please visit his website here for more information.}

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