I can’t adequately express my amazement at considering what—to others, I’m sure—is a simple procedure: to read a book. Reading is receiving what another has written, and writing, alone, is such a miracle. To think that the very thoughts of a person could be captured by mere scratchings on a page, and thus preserved in a manner making it possible to pass them along for years, generations, centuries, millennia—that, to me, is awe-inspiring. To know someone whom you will never be able to meet is incredible. But it happens all the time.
Recently, I uncovered a quote passed along by William Targ, known as one of America’s most distinguished editors. He, at G. P. Putnam’s Sons, was responsible for giving the go-ahead to one of the most widely recognized blockbusters of the 20th century, The Godfather. Targ had a deep love of the product of “the magical 26 letters by which we live” so it is no surprise that he would find, preserve and pass along this observation of an author of his time:
“When I was a ten-year-old bookworm and used to kiss the dust-jacket pictures of authors as if they were icons, it used to amaze me that these remote people could provoke me to love. Once I discovered that some author I loved had been dead for years, and my response was astonishment. Love beyond the grave! Love from people you will never meet! Love seeping through paper and parchment and ink! ...A piece of paper would be the magic mirror through which I stepped to join the imaginary friends who really loved me.”
While this author’s philosophy and works in no way match mine, in just this one aspect, I find her simpatico. Timelessness is to touch the paper that holds the words that change my world.