A reader’s perspective on seeking the right mood
I wasn’t sure how to bring this topic up but then I read Catherine Friend’s blog that she posted here on Women and Words about how she uses books as an escape (check out that blog here!). It was written in the wonderful way that Ms. Friend writes her stories with comedy rolled into it and superb pacing. And if you haven’t read Catherine Friend yet, first why not? And second I would highly recommend starting with A Spanish Pearl and just go ahead and purchase The Crown of Valencia because you’re no doubt going to want that immediately following. But back to the original idea of the blog- reading to escape. It’s important for me now and it’s been an important part of my life growing up. A good book can allow you to escape your life and enjoy someone else’s. I think most of us would agree that books do make wonderful escape vessels. And it doesn’t even matter what you are trying to escape from. Do you, as a reader, do that? Do you have certain types of books for certain moods that you escape into? Or certain authors you know you can get lost in?
I would almost want to make the gross generalization that the word “escape” would be to a happy place. A place to set aside worry, stress or the realities of life. I’m thinking escaping into a book is the equivalent of vacationing on a tropical beach with only a few if any people on it, perfect ocean water to swim in and amazing food (that I don’t have to cook) available whenever. Or having the blend of words so perfect that you lose time and you lose realization of body movement as you turn the pages to be drawn deeper into the story. My next questions would be, what if the story that you are escaping in is a reflection of parts of your life? Would that still be an escape?
For instance, Tracy Richardson’s Blind Bet. It has a sweet romance between Courtney Langford’s character and Ellen Tucotte’s, but the events that set Courtney’s character in motion or extreme! Missing an flight only to have that plane crash, killing everyone onboard. A sort of it should have, could have been moment. So escape into this one, because I did. I related to Courtney. Having a life altering event happen only to surface from the shock realizing I’m still here and I can’t change what happened. No matter how much I try or want or believe it didn’t happen, I’m still here. Alive. Definitely not a beautiful tropical beach type of escape, but this story offered a means to connect to the idea of surviving. The idea that I don’t have to think about my life because I can read about someone else’s experience instead. In my opinion- an escape.
Or watching Kendall Pearson’s character in Karis Walsh’s Wingspan slowly deconstruct. Slowly crack and crumble away the exterior she wanted to have in place. Wanted to have to protect her from experiencing pain and loss again. I don’t think it’s fair to describe the loss in this blog because that really pulls the story together but just reading it was a surprise. I can’t recall having had such a tragedy presented in a lesfic story that I could recall, or maybe because it was finally a reality for me and just an idea previously. But reading about a character who wanted to be black and white so bad! Wanted to have the script for the remainder of her life at her fingertips instead of writing as she lived, could that be an escape? Again, I would say yes because maybe the escape is more than just the tropical beach. Maybe the escape needs to be a world in which the connection is real. Be it a connection to another lesbian, someone falling in love, a child broken by tragedy, or a person just trying to figure out how to make it through the next day. Yep. It could definitely be an escape to find that connection.
And talk about a character that is broken, let’s talk about Luca Bennett in Slingshot by Carsen Taite. Damn! Definitely no tropical island get-away in her life! How could this be an escape? I mean I know I wouldn’t want to vacation in her life- living paycheck to paycheck, constantly keeping yourself armed, not knowing who can be trusted because the institute that is supposed to be trusted failed you while working for it. So my thought on this escape is that there are so many movies out there with death and destruction that we hardly think about it anymore. Desensitized I think the word would be. But Carsen Taite puts this character of Luca Bennett in that death and destruction moment and makes her choose. Do her job or do her duty. Both have possible tragic outcomes, so which do you choose? How would you live with the idea that if you had a made a different choice a different person might be alive. And that is what I was escaping into. Seeing how other people deal with choices and actions that can no longer be changed. I mean how do you undo death right? You don’t. You just have to keep going apparently and I was fascinated to see how Luca would. And escape into her slummy life I did!!
Life has ups and downs and most of us ride that roller coaster laughing and crying as needed. Sometimes it is the comedies we seek to let us escape through giggles and tears of laughter. Comedies and love that make us connect to all the happy, beautiful things we get to experience. Other times it is the darkness that can call to us and let us share our pain through escaping into other’s. A support group without having to actually confess, speak or share anything. Just a way to see there is an ending at some point and a way to take the hits that life is throwing and still stand up- taking one day at a time.