If you’re reading this letter, then most likely you’re reading my book, Words in Deep Blue. Hello.
My book is about a lot of things, but partly it's about secondhand books, and how they can be time travellers. Once we read them, we leave ourselves on the pages. Sometimes we underline things. Sometimes we fold down pages. Ghosts of us left behind on the things we love.
The idea for this book came from a lot of different places. A part of it arrived one night while I was reading an old copy of Tennessee Williams’ A Street Car Named Desire. Lines I loved had been marked by a stranger before me, and other lines had been marked by a stranger before them. I’d read other books that way, books with voices on the pages.
Of course there are quotes posted all over the net – ways to connect with other readers. And I love these sites. I’m all for e-books and screens and connecting with people about books any way I can.
But there’s something about actual books for me – probably because I’m interested in how we leave ourselves behind on our physical world – in art and words. When I read that copy of A Streetcar Named Desire, I was alone, but there was another history running along beside me.
When my dad became sick, and he mailed me copies of the books that he’d read so I could read them and we could talk. Those books arrived smelling of tobacco and old woollen jumpers. In some books he’d left the wrappers of sweets. His books arrived with him on the pages. And they arrived covered with his thoughts – invisible – on the pages. Those things were precious before he died, but even more so, after.
I hope you enjoy Words in Deep Blue. Leave a letter for someone else in your copy of the book, or leave a note in the margin.
You’ll be on the pages anyway.