Essentials

I recall a friend once posed this question to a group of us: “If length were not a factor, what book would you want to memorize, to swallow whole?” For a brief time we were in the midst of beautiful words and free from the world’s vitriol. Responses ran the gamut from The Velveteen Rabbit to Great Expectations. My book of choice was Andrei Makine’s slender volume Music of a Life. Maybe because the novel is only a little over a hundred pages or maybe because Makine explores themes of war and loss, suffering and beauty through images of such simplicity and lyricism—likening music to a silken thread slipping through a needle’s eye. I think of his craft and skill and want to ask him, “What book would you memorize?”