Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Weird Book Stuff

co·in·ci·dence
kōˈinsədəns,-ˌdens/
noun
  1. 1.
    a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.
    "it's no coincidence that this new burst of innovation has occurred in the free nations"

Best not to bother reading this if you're one of those people that are like "enh, whatever, coincidences aren't statistically relevant, don't bother me with your quasi-superstitious silliness". Also, lighten up man.

I love coincidences. I think incidents of coincidence evince extreme coolness. It's like the general perversity of things has decided to bump your hip playfully with a shaggy, golden-retriever-like head instead of working you over with overgrown spiky fingernails.

That said, a couple of my weird book things aren't coincidences at all. One was just an embarrassing lapse: I was all set to read There But For The by Ali Smith for book club. I flipped past the "Other Books By" page, and wondered briefly why my favourite of hers wasn't listed. Then I realized that the favourite book I was thinking of was Brick Lane, and that I had confused Ali Smith with Monica Ali, which is ALL KINDS of not cool, but at least I figured it out before I started reading.

Also not a coincidence: sometimes when I'm going out somewhere where I'll have to wait around at some point, I realize I don't have a book after I already have my boots on. In this case, it's too late to take something that I'm already reading, or my ipad with my library ebooks and Kindle books, because they're both upstairs and, well, I'm lazy. So I grab something from one of the three bookshelves nearest the front door. Several times, the book I grabbed was A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. It was a tattered second-hand copy, and I found the premise intriguing. It's well-reviewed and we all know I've seldom met a post-apocalyptic environment I didn't like. And yet, and yet.... every time, I would read a few pages, come home, stick it back on its shelf and go about my business. By the next time I grabbed it, I would have to start again, so I kept reading the same few pages and progressing no further.

Last week I was taking Eve to acting class, running a couple of errands and then picking her up with her friend after the class. I realized I might end up waiting a few minutes after my errands, and I already had my boots on, so I tiptoed across the floor and scanned the shelf for Leibowitz.

And it wasn't there.

I looked again. Still nothing. Totally vexed, I waffled for a few embarrassing moments, while my long-suffering cleaning lady waited for me to move so she could finish cleaning the living room. I ended up grabbing Woman on the Edge of Time and last night finished my second complete reading of that. But wither Leibowitz? Am I destined to never read the damned thing?

And now, finally, the coincidence.

I recently finished Half-Blood Blues, the Scotiabank Giller Prize winning book that was nominated for several other awards also by Esi Edugyan. I bought this about a year ago, read the first little bit and really liked it, then lent it to my mother since I had so many other books to read. When I got it back it got shuffled to the bottom of the pile, and when I finally picked it up again, it didn't totally bear out its early promise, but I did like it and think it was beautifully written.

A passage from near the end: "We both come to a stop. Across the room, seated in a cracked leather chair, his hair and beard completely white against his dark skin, was the man I'd reckoned dead all these years.
'Kto tam jest?' he said again, frowning. 'Ewa?'"

At the same time, I was reading Fearless, by Cornelia Funke, sequel to Reckless, Book Two of something called the Mirrorworld Series, not nominated for anything as far as I know, featuring fairies, curses, stone-skinned men called Goyls and a woman who is sometimes a Fox.

a passage from near the end: ""Around them it was so dark that Jacob barely saw his own hands. He stumbled over a cable, and when he tried to steady himself, his hand touched heavy velvet. 'Kto tam jest?'The floodlight that flared up above them was so bright that Fox pressed her hands to her eyes."

The VERY SAME Polish phrase in two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT books, neither of which ostensibly have anything to do with Poland, which I just happened to be reading concurrently. (It means, "who's there", I think, although I only reliably know how to say "pillow" and "egg" in Polish, sorry Babcia/Grandma).

Is that not INCREDIBLY COOL?

No? Okay, I guess it's not quite the universe making math jokes, but I think it's cool.

Also, regarding the previous post, clearly The People Have Spoken. I will keep the one on the left and give Julie the ever-so-slightly inferior one on the right. Thanks for playing.

5 comments:

Mary Lynn said...

I love coincidences, too, and that is TOTALLY cool. Especially since the phrase appears in two books that are so different. What are the chances anyone would be reading them at around the same time? Neat.

Nicole said...

Eeeeee! That is super cool! How fun!

Julie said...

:) yeah me.

and super cool coincidence. how the heck did you know it was polish?

Steph Lovelady said...

Eerie.

Suniverse said...

I am CONSTANTLY mixing up authors. And bands. And actors. I honestly feel like there are 4-5 people creating in any one field and all the others are just pseudonyms.