Re-reading can be weird

This
one is odd, guys.

It’s
nothing new to re-read a book and experience it differently. That happens all the time. It’s part of the wonder of re-reading, for Pete’s sake. 
But
this time, I’m struck by something new. 
The
first time I read The Sisters Brothers (Patrick
deWitt’s marvelous historical Western noir mash-up), I was struck by the humor
that infused the book and leavened it amidst all
the violence. 
This
time around, I’m all about the pathos. This book is breaking my heart.
It’s
still charming me with its deceptively straightforward prose and wry humor and
storyline of a person who wants to quit the violence of his day job. But the pain
suffered by the characters (all of them!) is real and sometimes wrenching.
The
cover of my paperback quotes the Irish
Times
: “So good, so funny and so sad.”
Yes.
This time around, I’m getting all three of those things.
So
here’s the weird part. When I first read the book back in 2011, part of my life
was a cesspool of suck. (Yeah, we don’t talk about these things on the blog. But there it is.) And when I read the book then, I mined it for the humor. Heaven
knows I needed it.


This
time around, I am happy in every way a person can possibly be. (I hesitate to
say that out loud.* But there it is.) And so now I’m reading this book and feeling
the characters’ pain. 
It’s
not like I’m looking for trouble to balance the happiness, but I think it’s like
this: at this stage, I can handle their sadness and wish their lives were
otherwise.
So the whole thing makes me wonder: Do we mine books for the minerals we lack at the time? 

*I know! It’s not “out loud” if it’s in writing. But sometimes, actually, it is.  

by

Reader, librarian, & happy little geek

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