Every once in a while a book comes along that just takes me over. This happens relatively infrequently, but when it does it’s always good. Usually I start reading and within the first few pages I’m hooked. I’m thinking, Man this is awesome! what is about this literature that has been compulsively reading and beggin’ for more? It could be the dialogue, the characters, the plot line, whatever it is, I’m hooked–bait, line, and sinker. The most recent instance of this is with the book One Day by David Nicholls. My mom bought this book for me as a little treat when she was here in March. I had read The Understudy the summer previous and was looking forward to reading more by him. I brought it with me to Spain and didn’t get an opportunity to read it until my journey home, which was my Disaster Day of Travel. I read the book in a 24 hour sitting. Excuse me, let me rephrase, I devoured the book; I couldn’t get enough of it. There were times when I told myself to just put the book down and let my eyes rest. Plus, I didn’t want to fly through it and not really soak it in. Alas, like an addict, I was unable to put it down. I felt myself drawn to the characters and their situation. They were my good friends, my cronies, and I couldn’t help but want more, MORE of their story.
The plot is a new twist on an old genre, the romantic comedy. Nicholls tells the story of Dexter and Emma, getting together for the first time on July 15th, the day after they graduate from college. Each chapter takes place on the same date, the following year, for twenty years. The reader is taken through the evolution of their friendship, the awkward beginning, the familiarity of the middle and the exasperations throughout. Nicholls is one of my favorite authors for his ability to incorporate laugh-out-loud situations in a non-slapstick way. It’s genuine humor and comedy. He also is simply a great storyteller. I sent One Day back home for Courtney to read, not realizing that it isn’t even available over there yet. So, she has a hot copy– and she better start reading!
I bring all this up now, not only because I have a slight obsession with reading, but because last night I was privy enough to attend a reading by David Nicholls, himself. My friend Adam, who I more or less persuaded to become a fan of Nicholls as well, joined a surprisingly large group of other nerds for a night of storytelling. What we didn’t anticipate was that a significant portion of the reading would take place in German. As we settled in and the program began we realized there was a serious possibility we would not understand most of what was being said. Thankfully, however, Nicholls and the German translator (I’m assuming) took turns reading excerpts. The best part about this was he reads exactly as I ahd imagined. I don’t know quite how to describe what I mean by this, but I suppose it’s like seeing a movie and a scene in the film perfectly matches the imagery you created from the text. He then proceeded to answer questions presented by the moderator and also some asked by the audience. The questions were interesting and gave great insight into both his craft and his beginnings as a writer. One utterly foolish woman in the audience basically ruined the ending for the entire room with her inquiry and left the room covering their ears and groaning at her selfishness. It was a cringe-worthy moment and made me happy that I had already finished the novel. It was first live reading and hopefully not my last. I realized how insightful it is, as well as entertaining.
I guess what I’m trying to convey through all this jumbled mess is that I really want you to read this book (and his others! At the train station in Manchester I bought his book Starter for Ten and read it in much the same fashion. Highly entertaining). You don’t have to have the borderline-inappropriate relationship that I did, but I definitely think it’s worth picking up. I finished the book in Laax on Easter weekend. The Nonna was at the house with Little Bean and I while the family was out skiing. For the last couple chapters I was a hot mess, getting way too involved in the story. I felt sorry for her as she had no idea what I was so worked up about. Her English is so-so and as you know, my German is rudimentary at best. I couldn’t really explain myself in a way suitable. Let’s just say, the book stirred something within me. If you get a chance, head to the library or bookstore and give the book a try. And thus begins our international book club.