One thing I really care about is finding the right bookmark for every single book I read. Something that reminds me of the city in which the story takes place, something that reminds me of the author for some bizarre reason, or something that just seems proper, that just sounds as a good idea.
The best bookmark I’ve had so far was the one I used for Colum McCann’s Let The Great World Spin: I was told to read it by a person I hold very dear, and since that person said to me «this book has Dublin and New York in it», I recycled as a bookmark my entrance ticket to The Tenement Museum in the Lower East Side (where I had taken the Irish Outsiders tour); the ticket had this «Irish Outsiders» written on it, and it was perfect: it carried both Dublin and New York with it, and -just like that masterpiece of a book does- it carried the poors and the desperates too.
Now I’m reading The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, and I didn’t know what to use. Just when I was starting to lose hope (and I never lose hope, that’s one thing you need to learn about me if you care to know me), surrendering to the shitty idea of using an ordinary bookmark, or no bookmark at all, I found this. It is the leaflet of Brooklyn Museum’s Children’s Book Fair, something that happened on November 23, 2013.
I was born on November 23. It is my birthday, on November 23. It was my 28th birthday, on that November 23, 2013. And I was in New York.
This amazing, powerful, heartbreaking book tells the heartbreaking story of a death. A death which takes place in New York. I somehow thought this was a nice coincidence: my most important day celebrating, as a bookmark, someone else’s OTHER most important day. Because that’s what death is: our other most important day. A day we do not see, a day we do not know, a day we spend unaware of its meaning, year after year, until the right one.
This was the right bookmark.
Thanks Joan for all the pain you are showing me, and for all these little pains of mine you are healing with the power of this one. Thanks for everything.
Hope the Universe appreciates this stupid way I found to celebrate you.
“Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends”.
“I remember thinking that I needed to discuss this (Jonh’s death) with John. There was nothing I did not discuss with John. Because we were both writers and we both worked at home our days were filled with the sound of each other’s voices. I did not always think he was right nor did he always think I was right but we were each the person the other trusted”.
“I see now that my insistence on spending that first night alone was more complicated than it seemed, a primitive instinct. Of course I knew John was dead. (…) Yet I was myself in no way prepared to accept this news as final: there was a level on which I believed that what happened remained reversible. That was why I needed to be alone. After that first night I would not be alone for weeks (my brother Jim and his wife Gloria would fly in from California the next day, Nick would come back to town, Tony and his wife Rosemary would come down from Connecticut, José would not go to Las Vegas, our assistant Sharon would come back from skiing, there would never not be people in the house), but I needed that first night to be alone. I needed to be alone so that he could come back. This was the beginning of my year of magical thinking“.
[E se poi volete fare una bella cosa, andatevi a leggere la recensione che di questo libro ha scritto la cara Francesca Crescentini: nella libreria ho un’intera pila di libri che son stati scritti a causa di Joan Didion da altri (qui uno su tutti), ma non avevo mai letto lei, LEI. Ringrazio perciò tanto anche Francesca per avermi fatto venire molta voglia di leggerla senza poter aspettare neanche un secondo di più].
[Sì, quella verde nella prima foto è una borsina da libro; di borsine da libro ne ho molte, giacché io i libri me li porto a spasso sempre con grande cura (non li butto mai in borsa nudi: li ripongo in borsa protetti da un’altra borsa: la loro borsina da libro, appunto). Questa, nella fattispecie -la scritta non si vede tutta, ma c’è scritto Lieblings Buch-, è un bellissimo regalo della mia amica Gioia].