It’s that time again, a fortnight has passed and those ladies at The Blue Bookcase are shining their light on all things literary and in that process they have posed this question-
What setting (time or place) from a book or story would you most like to visit? Eudora Welty said that, "Being shown how to locate, to place, any account is what does most toward making us believe it...," so in what location would you most like to hang out?
Pondering this, I would first need to clarify a point, at most times in the past to be in a position of thinking “this would be fun” and to have the time to appreciate your location, you would need to be of a certain status, whether this is through wealth, power, or both. So taking that as a given my first thoughts were Libraries, or to be more precise two libraries, now libraries & I have a long history, they were my sanctuary from the rigours of a large family & when I got to secondary school (11+) they were where I hid when playing truant, so libraries it was. My first idea was to go straight to the mother lode - The Great Library of Alexandria - now I know that is not actually the source, that Alexander the Great got the idea upon seeing Royal Library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh. The Great Library of Alexandria was the first of its kind to collate serious collections of written material far from it’s own borders, it’s set mission was to collect all the worlds knowledge. The library comprised a Peripatos walk, gardens, a room for shared dining, a reading room, lecture halls and meeting rooms. Now tell me honestly, as a book reader, what's not to like? There are a couple of problems with this as my choice though, the first could be solved by timing as general consensus agrees that Caesar accidentally burned the library down during his visit to Alexandria in 48 BC, so any time before that.
My second would be which book, this is down to the fact that most of the books I have read covering this subject were non-fiction & I no longer have them, except one - George Steiner's After Babel. Phew covered.
My second library would be a quiet haven, a sheltered place, say a private library in Takamutsu, where I could find peace whilst reading the collected works of Natsume Soseki and any other books I found there. I’m guessing that by now there are at least a few people reading this may have realised which book this library is in, but before revealing it here’s another clue - the manager is a Miss Saeki and apart from a previous career as a singer, she maybe the protagonist of the titles mother. So, yeah, this book is “Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami.
Looking back at my choices, I’ve realized both are sedentary, that my exploration of the environment is from a seated position, so a third choice will be more of a boys own adventure, will involve tramping around mountainous areas, crossing roaring seas and lochs containing - alright possibly containing - monsters. It will involve automobiles, boats, planes, bikes, and even walking. My last choice is not particularly chosen because of location or history, but the premise behind the book Raw Spirit – in search of the perfect dram by Iain Banks, and the premise is you’ve been given the job of researching on your favourite drink. Malt whisky is made in some of the most beautiful, rugged, inaccessible areas of Scotland, with some of the least modern methods of transport, resulting in a lot of planning & a unique view of his homeland “its a journey of a 1000 cheers & subsequent wobbly walks”. Along the way he meets people engaged in a centuries old tradition & manages to imbibe, along with a vast quantity of malt, some knowledge of the traditions, practices & eccentricities that make up the life blood of whisky & the distilleries that produce it. This writer more commonly known for works of fiction such as The Wasp Factory and Consider Phlebas (written as Iain M. Banks) he is widely acknowledged as one of Britain's greatest living writers & as a Scotsman is passionate about the Whisky. So my choice is to accompany him, to imbibe the malt, to wobble the route and to revel in the sheer fun that is the book.