Sunday, April 09, 2006

Tracy Chapman and High Fidelity

People always say that fiction in books mirrors reality. For most people though, these little blips of searing truth in literature are never found. The television is more interesting, or they have a new computer game, or they would rather whinge about how bored they are than read a book. I definitely read more than the average person these days, and even so there have only been two books that left me gasping.

The first was Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. I had to read it for a Romantic Literature class when I was at Western. We'd had to read several books and stories that hadn't interested me at all, and the only reason that I kept going to the class was because I found the professor absolutely fascinating. Then we started Anna Karenina, and I was blown away. There was something about the character and the story that, while I don't remember exactly what it was, resonated so perfectly with where my life was at the time that I couldn't stop reading it. I think I probably re-read that book four or five times over the course of our discussion of it in class. I haven't touched it since, and I think that I'm afraid that the moment of truth that I found in it the first time will be gone.

The second book is High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby. It's basically a story about a guy (Rob) who lives in London and owns a somewhat-failing record store. His girlfriend leaves him, he goes on a bit of a personal quest, then figures everything out. This book is different than Anna Karenina, simply because I have the urge to buy it for people and force them to read it. It's a book that makes me want to exclaim "Exactly!" in crowded places, then start talking to total strangers about why it fits. The first time I read it, it was like the pieces clicked together and everything made sense. It's incredibly difficult to describe what about the book clicked, but all I can say is that it fit, exactly. I'm currently reading it again, and it's the same. I didn't forget how I felt the first time, and it hasn't changed at all.

By now I'm sure you're wondering how, if at all, this relates to Tracy Chapman. As well as reading a stupid amount, I also listen to music constantly. I very much wish that I could walk around in my own personal bubble of sound, and not have to be subjected to the normal everyday workings of the world. Music, more than books I think, can fit a certain situation or moment. With books you have to be open to the truth that they want to tell you; kind of be in the right place for it and, crucially, actually read them. Music, however, is pervasive in society today. Every where you go, some pop princess' voice is blaring out of the speakers. Most major events in people's lives have music that reminds them of what happened. Songs remind people of friends, past relationships, that road trip they took before uni.

And right now, At This Point in My Life by Tracy Chapman is the song. Right now, right now, I'm doing the best I can.


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