Wednesday, April 06, 2005

When Was The Last Time You Read A Book For The Second Time Around and Actually Felt Like It Was The First Time?

I just did. Right now, I am still at a lost why in the world Eva Miranda had to disappear into the great abyss of anonymity when everything seems to have been settled and done with. I am speaking here about two of the characters and the end parts of the John Grisham book “The Partner” which was released in 1997, so many years after “The Firm” had caught the book world by storm. Yeah, I remember too well how Mr. Grisham had virtually stormed into the book scene without warning about a decade ago and how he went on to overshadow every other novelist at that time. I have just read John Grisham’s “The Partner” for the second time around.

Just about a week ago, I have felt that the summer season could afford me a lot of hours with nothing better to do that I decided for myself that I would have ample time to read a good novel again, while the weather was always warm and breezy in the afternoon. I almost went downtown to scour for new and old book titles that would suit my current reading fancy but just when I was about to take the shower, a “brilliant idea” entered my mind. I said to myself that I could actually save nearly half of a thousand bucks for a new book if I would just go foraging for books that I have bought before but hadn’t find the time to read them. I decided that I should do that. In fact, I might just end up buying a new title now and then just postpone reading it for a reason or two. Better be safe than regret later.

I had often in the past set aside books that I have just bought for reasons unique to each book. For example, when I started reading Pat Conroy’s “Beach Music”, I was reading it with my expectations about it set too high that I ended up just ignoring in the long run. I bought “Beach Music” having in mind that perhaps Pat Conroy could outdo himself and make another work better than “The Prince of Tides” or at least similarly invigorating. But to my dismay, I realized soon after that “The Prince of Tides” is a work that is difficult to be outdone, even by Pat Conroy himself, and it was so good that there might not be another book that could surpass its emotional vibrancy. So I just put aside “Beach Music” and postponed reading it, hoping that one day I’d find some time to read it. That time have not yet come as of this moment. “The Prince of Tides” is by the way one of my most favorite books. I have actually read it about four times already, believe it or not.

And then there was “A Suitable Boy” by Vikhram Seth, a sprawling saga that brings into life the unique and colorful Indian tradition on family and marriages. The story is based mainly on two characters namely Lata and her mother but the novel is so huge that it was the thickest novel that I had possessed. In the middle of my reading of it, I was bound for Manila to take the bar examinations and so I had to set it aside. I was already in the part where Lata’s mother was about to find a “suitable boy” for her, as she went toddling like a child among the festivities in their neighborhood and buying a certain myna bird from the nearby market. The gigantic novel pictured how it was all too colorful, happy and festive Indian occasions were, from marriages to natal days, and perhaps even in their burials. I enjoyed reading it but had to discontinue it for a while. Until now, I still haven’t found the right amount of time to finish this sprawling Indian novel. And so “A Suitable Boy” was one of the candidates that I had planned to read this summer.

My copy of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” was a gift to me by my wife when we were still “untied” to each other and it contain an endearing scribble from her. Perhaps, the copy was such a memento to me that I had decided to leave it untouched. Actually, the main reason why I did not proceed to read it entirely was because of its inherent enormousness---its extent is just too demanding and overwhelming, both at the same time. It was another colossal book that tested my patience to the hilt. I wanted to read it through and through but I have always procrastinated on Tolstoy, believing that there’d be a day that I’d be able to consume his two great works (the other one being “Anna Karerina”) or them consuming me. Whichever way, the “consumption” hasn’t happen yet. Maybe, summertime would give me the proper patience to tackle Tolstoy, the most direct rival of my most favorite author, Feodor Dostoyevsky.

There was also Salman Rushdie’s “The Moor’s Last Sigh” and I remember quite well that it was one of the books that I haven’t finished reading in the past. I lighted with great zest when I remember all at once that before I left it in midway, I was enjoying it so much that now, as I have come to notice it again, I could not point out too well the reason or reasons why I had to abandoned it in the first place. Sometimes our memory just fails us.

Just when I was about to locate the Salman Rushdie work, I stumbled unknowingly into John Grisham’s “The Partner” and almost threw it aside knowing too well that there is no Grisham book in my cabinet that went unread. But for some reason, I started flicking at its beginning pages and I there I read the beginning passages where a bunch of Brazilian hoodlums was on a stakeout upon the person of a certain Danilo Silva. I started to ask if I remember anything about Danilo Silva and I had some feint memory. The first parts of the book were paced so rhythmically and major mysteries were built in the beginning pages that I had more questions in my mind. Will they eventually find him? How did the Brazilian jungle become one of the scenes of a Grisham tale (this had intrigued me so much that I continued to leaf through the book).I asked more questions and before I knew it, I forgot about Salman Rushdie and decided to read “The Partner” instead.

Reading “The Partner” for the second time around was such an enjoyable experience to me that it actually felt like I was reading it for the first time; and then liking it so much. It was like reading a book like Feodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” where the first sentences of the book grabs at your attention by the throat and never let go until the end was about to come. When I was in highschool, I remember reading the espionage thrillers of Frederick Forsythe, particularly “The Fourth Protocol” and “The Days of The Jackal” and “The Partner” brought back similar sort of excitement that I had felt then, as I salivated on pages after pages and read it so passionately that I finished reading it in merely five days. I don’t know if five days was fast enough but I never had finished a book in just a week’s time, not even “Catcher In The Rye”.

John Grisham is what we say the more commercial writer in the lot and we don’t know exactly if one day he’d go down among the literary giants of our time, which I gravely doubt. But on second reading, I thought “The Partner” was an entirely good read and a well-thought-of story, where everything seems to be plausible and yet at the same time remarkably outlandish and far-fetched. I don’t exactly know what I meant by that.

I am not perhaps alone in the observation that “The Partner” is one highly-enjoyable book because this novel was a main selection of the Literary Guild when it was released in 1997, and of course we all know that the Literary Guild has a known credibility to rate the import of each book, among other book circles; and this is one mean feat for Mr. Grisham. There are some smart and tidy twists in this novel that would take you by surprise, as if you are being poured on with a pail of cold water each time.

I have read many other John Grisham book but so far, I had enjoyed this one the most and what’s funny about this is that I realized it only upon reading it for the second time around.

So when was the last time you read a book for the second time around and actually enjoyed it?
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