I often forget how mesmerizing Joseph Conrad is to me. The love affair started in high school with the infamous Heart of Darkness. Since then, I’ve been able to get lost in many Conrad adventures.
Time slows with Conrad, though, it doesn’t stand still, since he is still taking you on a voyage that will affect how you view yourself and the world. I thought I would illustrate with a recent experience.
Restless in my too-full house, I went to a big-box bookstore chain (what I wouldn’t do for a small, independent bookstore) looking for a coffee and a quick browse through the collection. The thing with this particular store is that it is not the place to read a book. Unlike cozy independent stores, there are no nooks and crannies to get lost in. You can’t hide from the conversations and the people gossiping for no reason.
But with Conrad I could. Stuck between a toe tapper who obviously just wanted to sit in a chair to lounge around and a couple gossiping about their parents in the next chair, I almost threw in the towel. But then I got swept away in Conrad’s The Shadow-Line: A Confession. An hour later I was shook out of the humid world of the Southeast Asian coast to realize that an hour was indeed gone, as were the annoying couple and the lazy toe-tapper.
I promptly bought Shadow-Line (though you can read for free at the above link if you are crazy enough to think reading on computer screens will ever replace the organic beauty of print), as well as The Secret Agent.
Thanks for that hour, Conrad. I really needed it.