Hello. My name is Dina and I’m a Biblioholic. I’ve been in denial for years but now it’s time to come clean. My addiction to books is ruining my life. I went out shopping for groceries yesterday and came back with the complete works of John Cheever. My fridge is empty, the washing neglected. I haven’t cleaned my house in weeks. I’m even finding Patrick White easy to read. I need help.
Thanks for the applause and synchronised hellos, and the warm welcome, Ms Facilitator. It’s such a relief to discover that I’m not alone. All of you here, drinking camomile tea, understand my affliction. Sally, I really appreciated sharing your Jane Austen obsession. How well I know the sharp pangs of Darcy Syndrome, although I was afflicted by Knightley Disease myself – the lure of the older man – which progressed into Rochester Phenomenon for far too long, as I recall….Martin, your Henry James fixation is perfectly natural, who wouldn’t empathise with the desire for intricate, meticulously observed sentences, where the passion for detail – every element of a room’s furnishings, for example, carefully notated – mingles with keenly-fashioned dialogue, edged with sound psychological realism and a hint of authorial comment?
I apologise, Ms Facilitator, believe me, I’m not trying to reinforce behaviour patterns, I’m simply saying – of course I realise Fay’s suffering from Novel-induced Tourette’s. But here’s my take on it: she’s in the grip of Gritty Millennial Realism. There’s only one way out, going cold turkey on all novelists under 35. How about a mammoth dose of Hemingway? OK. OK. Maybe that wasn’t such a great idea.
Let’s chant. Hold hands. Close our eyes. Our mantra for this week is inspired by our Bible, Biblioholism: The Literary Addiction by Tom Raabe (paperback).
We shall destroy our credit cards
We shall answer the telephone and speak to friends
We will not read book reviews
We will cross the road when we see a public library
When we spot a bookshop, we will turn the corner and pop into a café for a coffee and muffin instead.
I admit it was flippant, Ms Facilitator, to say swapping this class for a Weight Watchers weigh-in was taking the cake. And naturally I recognise the gravity of our condition.
Peter, I’m sorry your wife has moved out, I really sympathise, although negotiating this pile by the kitchen – just one week’s reading, I think you said – must have been pretty awkward.
Peter, stop crying, I’m not being judgmental – come back – we’ll get through this. All of us. We just have to have faith.
Let me get this right, Ms Facilitator: by watching the movie of the book, you’re saying we’ll be drawn into an appreciation of other media, and gradually increase our consumption of competing distractions? I get it – a gradual weaning, a softly, softly approach – how about Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper in For Whom The Bell Tolls? Oh, that’s on your Recommended Next Steps, is it, along with Omar Sharif in Dr Zhivago? I’m impressed. And I think you’ve got a great track record, only losing one group member to Game of Thrones.
See you all next week.