Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Book Report/Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast, 1993
I gave this book by Bill Richardson to Tom on his birthday in 1997 (amazingly enough, this very date!), and inscribed it as follows:
This sounds like a real treat. "If you go there, it will be in your own time and way."
I have found myself there on four or five occasions over these ten years. Not even the love of my childhood, Little Women, has the honor to have been read that many times. When I came to choose thirteen books for the Canadian Book Challenge, I didn't think John would mind if one out of the thirteen was a re-read, not when it is one of the best books in my world. But still, when I began I kind of wondered, would the words hold me in their thrall as they have in the past? Well, yes, without a doubt. From the very first sentence, I am there. I am amongst those wonderful brothers in their heaven-on-earth, a bibliophile's bed and breakfast; a place to go and read. Not sightsee, not climb a mountain, not swim, not try fancy restaurants, but simply and wonderfully, read.
Both brothers are avid, lifelong readers. They share the oppression felt by the gentle, sometimes confused people who are their paying guests; people who see that the ratio of books available to time available is terribly skewed. Hector and Virgil think of their B & B as a way of redressing that dreadful imbalance.
This book is told in a few different ways. There is the straightforward way, which alternates between the voices of the two brothers, as they tell a present day story or a tale from the past. Then there are chapters of lists: The Top Ten Authors Over Ten Years at the Bachelor Brothers' B & B, Virgil's List of Books for When You're Feeling Low, and Hector's List of Favourite Authors for the Bath. And there are guest book signings. We read the person's first name, and then that guest's story. These are so heartfelt and very interesting.
At one point a guest is talking about Jane Austen's "still, quiet, ironic voice," and I found that the words describe exactly how I feel about this book:
I have never tired of it, and there are not many things in a life that endure so shiningly.
A lovely way to nearly complete a year of reading, and indeed the book ends in this way:
The only sounds will be the scratching of my pen on this paper and the slight coughing of these three candles, these three dwindling magi, each one carrying a gift of gold, each small light shining as the earth rockets through space, spinning away from the year's darkest day, spinning towards a new year when anything might happen, and everything most assuredly will.