“We are just going to have to read translations.”
My book club friend and I had been talking about what book to read next. We’re choosy, and we have already run through so many–MOST–of the good ones.
We’ve shot the canon.
So. For our next book to read, what do we have left? I refuse to spend the rest of my life re-reading books. There must be something more out there.
By chance, the next weekend, I was introduced to a spanish language undergrad. “Can you point me to a few good novels from Spain?” I asked.
“Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Zee-Ay-Eff-Oh-En.” She assured me he was the real deal.
The Shadow of the Wind is where I began. One of the major catalysts for the action of the story is a place called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
Now, taking a moment to be personal here, I am a writer. See that? I just wrote that.
As I have learned more about writing and written more, I approach books differently. I am now always aware of the author when I am reading. I used to be able to forget about the author, but now I am aware of the author’s choices when he or she decides to tell the story a particular way.
For example, I read Until I Find You by John Irving and loved it. Hooray! a new author! I went to read more of his works. Then, not very far into the next book, a little boy got his eye put out in a freak car accident. I could not forgive the author for mistreating a little kid, and refused to finish the book. I don’t think he had to do that! Even if eyes of little boys are sometimes put out in real life. I didn’t think the author had to go there.
Back to Zafon: the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is an enormous labyrinth, a very secret place, where books will be protected. They will not disappear, they will be preserved and saved. The stories’ action start or is affected by this place.
In the next story by Zafon, The Prisoner of Heaven, the hero is an author. He writes sensational horror for money, and finally gets a chance to write a REAL story. He writes and pours his soul into this one, and it is dismissed by the critics. His evil publisher pulps all but a very few copies, and he is devastated.
He knows this one is better than the popular stuff he has written, and goes to the mysterious bookseller’s shop, staggering with broken heart and having nowhere else to go.
‘You once told me of a place where you could keep a book, where it would never be destroyed and be safe forever.’
Oh, Zafon. I understand now. That’s what the Cemetery of Forgotten Books is about.
I am preparing my latest book for publication. This one is the one that matters. I have spent ten years running my soul through a meat grinder to tell this story. And I am about to make it into a book, which has every likelihood of being ignored.
If I had to sell it to a publisher who had a right to destroy it, I might be in the same spot as the brokenhearted hero. It *could* be destroyed by unscrupulous people.
I am not giving up my rights to my story, because I don’t have to. But with great gifts come great responsibility. I will have to find a way to tell the whole world that they need to hear my story. And the whole world is notoriously uninterested in me.
It is possible that this ten year story will bear the same fate as my little 5 month Miriam the Camel Driver story; a few people read it and were delighted.
A very few.
I know there are at least 10 people who will read this Big One. And I know that many more people’s lives would be changed if they read it too.
Be fickle, Fortune, and let this one be discovered. But if not, even if my 10 were the only ones that read it, for the sake of ten it is still worth it.
What else was I gonna do with those ten years? My soul was going to be ground up anyway.