While working at the circulation desk at the Bolinas Library, I noticed that a favorite book I read long ago was being checked out and passed along from person to person. Island, a book of short stories by Alistair MacLeod was published in 2001. Seeing this book again, prompted me to take a deep breath and led me to think about reading slowly, savoring the language, and delving into the characters’ worlds. Reading Island cannot be rushed. Apparently, Alistair MacLeod wrote slowly and has only published a few books. He wrote a sentence at a time and rarely revised. The language is simple but deceptively so.
Thinking about this book and re- reading it started me thinking about slow reading. Of course, we have slow food and slow travel, why not slow reading. For a moment I thought I was having an original thought but then I decided to google the term, slow reading and found that others were thinking and writing about this too.
Alistair MacLeod was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, in 1936 and raised among an extended family in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. He still spends his summers in Inverness County, writing in a clifftop cabin looking west towards Prince Edward Island. In his early years, to finance his education he worked as a logger, a miner, and a fisherman. His stories take place in these harsh worlds but the details lead the reader to a common humanity.
One of my favorite quotes from the author is: “No one has ever said that life is too easy, only that it is to be lived.”
Happy slow reading.