MINING FOR GEMS
My local library is in the habit of tossing out worn or under-used titles and selling them off at $1 each (until recently it was ten cents, but that’s inflation for you). Frequently, I come across an author I’ve never read before and find myself catapulted into unexpected reading pleasures.
The latest gem to fall into my hands is Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance. He writes a rich and colourful tapestry of India in the 1970s, following the fortunes of four characters whose lives inter-connect during a time of political upheaval. It’s a big book but I’m galloping through it because I can’t put it down. Without it being ‘preachy’, or it reading like a travelogue, Mistry has woven setting, characters and the political history into an enthralling read.
If that wasn’t enough to make him well worth the $1, Mistry has introduced me to two delicious words that sent me scurrying for a dictionary: ‘horripilate’ is that goose-bumping of the skin from cold or fear, and ‘funambulating’ is walking a tightrope or high wire. This is the sentence he used the second one in: "On windy nights the (laundered) garments danced on the wire, friendly funambulating ghosts". I almost hyperventilate at the sheer pleasure of repeating it aloud!
If for no other reason, going to the dictionary for the meaning of new-to-me words builds muscle for those Face Book quizzes like, “How Many English Words Do You Know?” and “How Good is Your Vocabulary?” But nobody’s fooled…you all know I’d do it just for the fun of it.