Sunday, March 21, 2004

Michel Tremblay, Birth of a Bookworm.
Trans. Sheila Fischman.

Any reader--and by that word, I mean anyone who is consumed with reading--will love this book.
Tremblay describes, in a series of vignettes, his growth as a bookworm. Each major development happens in relation to a particular book or set of books. We learn of his dismay--so amusing, given what Tremblay does for a living--at his first non-picture book, that had words set-off as dialogue as with a play! I read with sympathy of his desire for Snow White to end differently, and his subsequent imaginings and tellings of what just might happen next. Of being so enveloped in Gabrielle Roy's The Tin Flute, that he missed most of a familial vacation. Of his first exposure to drama, in Agamemnon. Of becoming sick, worried about a character in... of falling in love with a character... of reading almost all of the books from the Index...

Tremblay writes movingly about these defining experiences, capturing--as he is well-able indeed to do--the sorts of exchanges that he'd have with his mother as they argued about this book or that, about Michel being unwilling to remove his nose from a book. These stories will ring true for any reader. You will remember your own cognates of these experiences, and you'll smile, being oh so very happy yet again to have discovered the wonder of books.