There exists a tension between my professional reading life, and that of my personal. The level manifests itself by degrees of hesitancy. Should I read this? That? Adult? Children’s? There are nights when I am tucked in with nubby flannel sheets, a down quilt covering me like a shroud, a stack of varying titles to suit any mood, cheap, drug store reading glasses, and a toasty beanie-warmer. All are within the reach of my hand, and they call to me – like sirens. I am rooted and waiting to be “acted upon” by words.
When I am tense from the emotional detritus of the daily life, the balm is always the comfort-title. So it is upon such an evening, as the porch lights glow and the darkening sky portends of “weather,” that I reach for a favorite author, Andrea Camilleri and his title, A Beam of Light. One of many in his “Inspector Montalbano Mystery” series, I know what to expect and I am pleased with this expectation. It is the remedy I seek. No hesitancy.
Yet, something is not quite right. Reading the few beginning lines is sounding too familiar. Was it the television series I am remembering, or have I read this book previously. I persevere. No. I have “tried” to read this before. Uh-oh. The siren’s song is silent. After having read many of his previous titles with a complete immersion in the author’s Sicily, the perseverance gives way to tiredness. I find the dialogue tedious and annoying. There is too much of the author’s effort in his conveyance of the peculiarities of Catarella’s speech.
“Chief, I gatta tell yiz afore anyting ilse ‘at iss a long an’ compiclated story….Aright. So, seein’ ‘at ‘iss mornin’ yoyus truly betooked ‘isself onna order o’ ‘Specter Augello insomuch as they’s aspectin’ the ‘rrival o’ the heliocopter carryin’ Hizzoner the Monister o’ – .”
I close it, before the end of Chapter One, with a muttered curse. I have tried to read this before! This is the second time I picked up this book – thrilled with my consolation prize.
Days pass, and I ponder this: Why is it that I can no longer read these delightful stories? Two answers. One: I am spoiled by the excellently filmed television series. Two: I spend much of my time professionally, as a teacher, correcting writing. Now, reading this in the printed word results in my compunction to grab THE red pen…yet, I cannot. The book is borrowed.
Camilleri, Andrea, and Stephen Sartarelli, trans. A Beam of Light. New York: Penguin Books, 2012. Print.