A few months ago I had about 150 pages left to read in my novel. It was Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History” and it is easily one of the best books I have read in a long time – or ever. A good book is like an intoxicating dream that feels so real and stays with you for weeks or more afterwards. For me, John Irving has done this time and time again, compelling me to reread almost all his novels (my fav is “Until I Find You”). “We Were the Muvaneys” by Joyce Carol Oates is another such book. Jeffrey Eugenides’ complex family history in “Middlesex” still haunts me and makes me laugh. The epic and fantastical history of the Buendias in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez paints such sweeping visuals it feels at times like a poem you can see and taste and feel.
I took a short story writing class a few years back and although the class itself was garbage (the teacher was racist, sexist and misogynistic), but I made a wonderful and lasting relationship with a girl who is my perfect antithetical other, Khalida. Being with her is so easy and natural even though we are so different. She is such a great artistic foil, and even better for recommending things to read. She is a short story junkie, but I can’t get down with them. I’ve read some great ones, they just don’t linger with me the way a good novel does. I didn’t know why, but leave it to Khalida to put it into words so eloquently – she is writer after all. She said it’s hard to get invested so quickly for some people. We protect ourselves against hurt and knowing this story has an imminent end and these characters we may love will very soon be gone, we keep our distance to insulate ourselves. Shit, that’s so true! I guess it just proves the talent of a great short story author to break down that wall and get it all done in a matter of pages, no extraneous words. Hats off!
This all comes to mind months later. That feeling of staying up way too late – or early in this case, that physical need to charge forth and learn the fate of my new fictional friends. I have this weird thing when I’m coming to the end of a good book: I have to plan and ration the last 50 pages or so, I want to be in bed or at home and comfortable, I want to be somewhere I can ruminate and sit in the resolve. It is an emotional experience that I have one too many times experienced on the subway amongst screaming babies and snoring commuters. It is almost too painful to be in public when it comes down. A little melodramatic, I know, but this only proves the power of art and storytelling. Curled up on the couch with Emmett at my feet, I peeled away the final pages toward that resolution and finally closed it up for good somewhere around 6:00 am. Just in time to get a few short hours sleep before work!
I don’t regret a moment of it, but that morning was rough! I used to be a pro at late nights, but I’m much older now. So as I rushed through the house in a frenzy that next morning my stomach rotted and groaned. With no time to spare this little number came together from the pantry. Toast, nut butter, bananas, granola, some spice and sweetness and a few minutes later… good to go. Now the only thing that lingered was beautiful Henry and the gang and how their story will stay with me for a good long time.
PS. I am looking for some great things to read and welcome any input – what books have kept you up at night? Share the love…
PRETTY NUTMEG AND BANANA TOAST
makes 2 slices
This toast is wide open for substitutions. I’ve used think slabs of oat bread only lightly toasted and I’ve tried thin and dark slices. I’ve used almond butter, pumpkin seed butter and crunchy peanut butter. I’ve used nutmeg, all spice, five spice and cinnamon. Below is the combo that had the most harmony for me, but whatever is on hand will do. Make sure to omit the honey if your nut butter is already sweetened.
2 slices of your favourite bread, toasted to your liking
Almond butter, about 3-4 tbsp depending on the size of your bread
a small handful of granola
1 banana, thinly sliced
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg (or more to taste)
Assemble in this order: spread butter, sprinkle granola, drizzle with honey, lay on banana slices dividing over both toasts, grate over nutmeg, dig in!