I read a lot, but only non-fiction. The last time I read a fictional novel all the way through was in elementary school–Hatchet. Or maybe one of them choose your own adventure books…can’t remember.
I don’t, or didn’t, get the appeal of fiction novels. If I want to be engulfed by a make-believe world, if I want to be totally absorbed into the head of a fictional character, wouldn’t it work better in movie form, where I get to see, and hear the fictional world? If Taxi Driver was a novel, I can’t imagine a sentence or paragraph that could capture Travis Bickle’s loneliness as well as actually see Robert De Niro’s phone call to Betsy only to hear the sorrow and sadness in his voice as he senses rejection (ironically, we don’t actually see De Niro when the call happens because Scorsese, in a freaking masterful move, pans the camera away to an empty hallway).
So I’ve always read non fiction. Books on the history of basketball, books on pop culture, biographies of people…stuff that actually happened, stuff I can actually learn and use in life.
Today, I purchased my first non fiction book in what, 15-20 years? The book’s One Day, by David Nicholls. I’ve been wanting to read it since I read that five star review in SCMP a few months back…held off buying it because I thought, “but I don’t really like to read fictional novels, why don’t I wait until they adapt it into a mediocre movie starring Paul Rudd and Cameron Diaz”.
But after stumbling onto the book today at a book store and reading some more glowing reviews on the iPhone, I decided what the heck.
One Day is a story of a boy and girl, who–due to a myriad of circumstances–never really get together even though there is a clear connection. The book follows them for twenty years, where the two come in and out of each other’s lives. The separate lives they lead turn out quite fine, but there’s a bond–a friendship, a love–that maintains throughout. It’s like that whole Forrest/Jenny, Benjamin/Daisy thing, only not so one-sided.
Of course, I’m cynical this can happen in real life. I mean, this is why it’s called fiction.
The title of the book, One Day, strikes me. Man those two words can do so much. They can give you hope, but they can also encourage you to stall. Coincidentally, those two words also make up one of the best opening lines to a feature I’ve read this year…
“He can imagine, he says, playing for Cleveland again one day”