The book voices

Does it happen, when you read a long book, that the voice of the book begins speaking in your head instead of your own? Your eyes, your body move as you walk through the world, and pressing close and gazing out, reflecting on the traffic and the birds and the workmen as you pass them, is the one who spoke that book. The words, the pauses between, what is noticed, ignored, mocked, adored. You’ve absorbed. Or been absorbed–which?

Maybe this doesn’t happen to everyone. Some people’s voices are so strong they cannot be altered. These voices do not change color with the changing of books, music, seasons, companions. They are always reading their own book, never another’s.

But for the rest, one book follows another, your accent changes again. What then are you? The first story you hear? A sedimentary accumulation? What is left when the last book is closed?

We who dissolve into books can know a thousand lives. Do we ever know our own?


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