Monday, February 25, 2013

Stuck in a Book

I'm reading Underworld by Don DeLillo.  It has taken me a thousand forevers to get into this book, but now that I'm finally INTO it I don't want to put it down.  There are a lot of themes floating through the various people who pop up through this novel.  One such theme is the impact of an individual's history.  The sense that one person's history has a depth and reach that is inexplicable, even if they are not Martin Luther King or JFK or anyone other than some John Smith off the street.

DeLillo talks about shoes and what all the parts of a shoe are called: aglet, eyelets, laces, tongue, sole, heel, and then the ones I didn't know at all: quarter, vamp, outsole, welt, and cap.  The character in the novel says if they've been named then they must be important.  There must be a reason to learn all the words.  He references the word quotidian and says, "an extraordinary word that suggests the depth and reach of the commonplace" (Page 542-Underworld by Don DeLillo). 

This really made me think, as if I don't think enough.  Every single person has an impact on others.  Everything you learn and do has meaning.  It is ENOUGH just to be alive: smiling at someone, having a late night conversation over coffee, sharing a laugh, comforting a friend who has lost a loved one, seeing a smile appear on a baby's face for the first time...these are the moments to remember.  These are the moments that connect us to each other.  Your contribution could touch people that you don't even know it's touched, and that's an amazing thing.

As I was reading DeLillo, he described a scene about a glass of water with an alka-seltzer tab running down the side, watching the fizz, and I remembered my Dad used to have a water with an alka-seltzer.  I used to watch the tablet settle at the bottom, the bubbles coming up, and wondering why the heck he'd want to drink that!  A shared history.  We all have certain memories and moments that intertwine with each other, nuances that make us think about the people who are here and who were once here that we've loved...and hated. 

Quotidian: turn the ordinary into something extraordinary. 

And by the way, I'm still not sure there is an actual a plot in Underworld.  I'm more than halfway done.  This novel is more like a work of art: poetic, descriptive, and tied together.  He is an incredible author, and I'd strive to be only half as good of a writer as he. 

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