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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Magic of Books


Do I believe in magic? Not in a literal, izzy-wizzy, hocus-pocus sense. But in a way I do believe in magic. The magic of storytelling, through music, films, and above all, books. Books are magical; they are a way of stepping into a different world and imagining whatever you like within that world. You open a book and it's like your own private television; the characters and the plot jump out at you and you become immersed in them.

A book that truly touches on the power of literature is Finders Keepers by Stephen King. (Click here to see my post reviewing some of his books that I've read). In this story, a sociopathic man named Morris Bellamy murders the writer John Rothstein and steals a bunch of money and notebooks containing Rothstein's unpublished works. Bellamy is crazy (though not as awful as Brady Hartsfield from Mr Mercedes), but I understand how he feels. As an addict and book lover, I know the power of obsession and I know how a story can possess you. Bellamy's story is actually quite tragic, and when I first read Finders Keepers I was upset at how Mr King had led things to happen. 

But rightly, as mentioned in the book itself (a book about books, like Farenheit 451); good novelists don't 'tell' the story, they follow their characters and write down what happens. The best stories (and it also goes for films) are character driven, and if you follow your characters and let them tell the story, you'll be fine. I try to apply this rule when working on my own fiction, as someone who aspires to write stories that people will hopefully love to read. (So far my biggest fan is my wonderful best friend, who has read and critiqued four of the stories I've been working on over the past couple of years).

I always feel sad when I meet people who say they don't read. Reading is considered 'nerdy' and 'uncool'; it's something intellectuals do, something that hoity-toity high-and-mighty folk do. The 'intelligencia' class. In school, no one ever wants to befriend the nerdy bookworm; they get taken the piss out of. (Believe me, I've been there). I had to sit there and bite my tongue when I heard basic fools say 'reading is so boring'. By sixth form I thought fuck it, bite the bullet, and would read in class before lessons kicked off. Why wouldn't I? I love reading, I love books, and since I was about four or five (old enough to think) I've wanted to be a writer. It's something that is inside of me, a deep love that I can't explain.

But one of the messages of Finders Keepers isn't just that literature is powerful enough to turn a man to murder and obsession. (Misery also touches on this brilliantly; one of my favourite books). It is also that there are some things more important than books. When Pete Saubers discovers Morris Bellamy's buried trunk filled with the stolen money and notebooks, he too becomes absorbed into the world of Jimmy Gold as created by Rothstein. But Pete knows that his sister and his mother are more important than words. Words are powerful, and I love books, but I love my brother and mother more than books. Like Pete, I like to think I know what matters. I feel his pain (I'm trying not to spoil too much) at the end of the book, and I do ache for Bellamy, despite how fucked up the guy is. (Maybe because I'm a little fucked up myself, as many of us are).
Books will never replace loved ones, and in every cat-and-mouse thriller, the hero always realises that it's the ones they love that are more important than whatever 'treasure' the villain craves. The villain doesn't care for others, he/she wants treasure. Harry Potter expresses this message brilliantly. Voldemort will never know love, or friendship. Voldemort doesn't have a Ron, Hermione, or a Hagrid. Voldemort only cares about power, but Harry cares about love. And that really is the best magic of all, and a magic that is incomparable to books, no matter how wonderful they are. After all, every writer dedicates their books to people they love, and without love, those books wouldn't be written in the first place.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/stephen-kings-finders-keepers-is-a-chilling-portrait-of-literary-obsession/

3 comments:

  1. though i don't read many books (aside from manga) i do love good stories and atmosphere and fun in entertainment mediums

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  2. Great post! I haven't read any Stephen King, but I've heard so many good things!I love how you end this it by saying "it's the ones they love that are more important than whatever 'treasure' the villain craves." I couldn't agree more. :D Amy @ Amy's Bookshelf

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    1. Thank you! Stephen King is amazing, I recommend Carrie or Misery as a starter as they're not very long and are very gripping (and some of his more famous earlier ones).

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