Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fiction and Friends

Robert Ellis

I'm taking a break from the blog until Tuesday, September 2, but I did have a question I wanted to ask.

Have you ever noticed that when you meet someone who got off on the same book, you feel as though you know them well enough to be friends? Maybe it's just me, but I have. I can remember being a huge fan of Colin Wilson in college. Wilson was self-educated, practically lived in the British Library, and became a very prolific writer best known for THE OUTSIDER series. The two books that got to me were stand-alones that seemed to fit together like a glove, THE PHILOSOPHER'S STONE and THE MIND PARASITES. Unlike THE OUTSIDER, both are works of fiction, an odd mix of sci-fi, fantasy, all backed up by Wilson's extraordinary understanding of history and philosophy. To this day, when I meet someone who read these books and got caught up in Wilson's spell, it's almost as if we've known each other our entire lives.

Colin Wilson
The same thing happened when I started reading Elmore Leonard.  A guy I worked with was reading THE SWITCH  at the same time I was. All we talked about was the book, and then the next one and the next one. We became friends.

The reason I mention it is that I can't remember this ever happening with a movie or a song. And I don't think this has anything to do with the quality of the work. It's more about the experience. Unlike any other form of art, novels find a way of getting inside us.

Could I be moved to personal change by watching a movie or listening to a song? I don't think so, but I could rip off a list of ten books that changed my life forever without even thinking about it.

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