This Is How Looking For Camus Led Me To Charles Dickens And The Great Canadian Novel

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I was going to write about The Myth of Sisyphus, but can’t find the damn book. It’s late, and I’m prone to ambiguous sarcasm and slop.

Looking for Sisyphus

I looked all over for the damn book. My shelves are stuffed with books of all kinds. I’ve got books on so many different topics that I can’t keep it all together. So many times I’ve wandered by the shelves only to berate myself that they’re all out of whack and there’s no order to ’em and I can’t find a damn thing when I need to.

What My Son Had To Say About Sisyphus

My six year old son even joked with me tonight just after I helped brush his teeth.

I said to him, “Look, if you find the Myth of Sisyphus let me know ok?”

So he went into his room and said, “Dad–I found the Myth of Sisyphus. It’s right here.”

He got me–for a split second.

“What?”

“Just kidding!” And then he started to laugh a mischievous laugh. The whole thing was absurd anyway, I mean what kind of six year old kid can find the Myth of Sisyphus among thousands of books on several different floors of the house all in complete random order–it’s absurd.

And I would argue it’s just as absurd for a six year old to even mention the title of The Myth of Sisyphus anyway–I mean really, how damn absurd is that?

Absurd Combinations–Or Are They?

So anyway, I went looking everywhere for the damn book. It’s small. Paperback (I should buy a hard copy!). The perfect size to get tucked in somewhere between a book on the history of India and another on the Boer War.

Or squished in between one on the Ottoman Empire and another of the best of Garfield or the Far Side Gallery or something.

Ah–what I think it would best be suited next to would be (say) Slavoj Zizek’s Paralax View and Kierkegaard’s Either/Or–no, way too damn obvious.

How about Baudrillard’s America and Alice in Wonderland–no, way too damn obvious too!

How about the King James Bible and Herman Hesse’s Steppenwolf? All too linear!

I’ve got it–Barney Sharing and Caring and Karouac’s On the Road?

Ah forget it!

On Buying Houses Just To Store Books

What bugs me, what really burns my backside, is that I have it somewhere! The threat here is that I somehow lost it or gave it away to someone and forgot about it. That’s why I should never give away books, especially those I think I’ll need in the future. But at that rate, I’ll need to buy another house just to store my books! (Not a bad concept actually. I’ve read about people like this–real bibliophiles: they’ll collect so many books that they need to buy another house to put them in. But not in these times–no. Now we have the cloud, so we can store stuff anywhere but in the physical world. But people need to still collect stuff and buy houses for them, so I’ve read now that people are buying houses just to serve as a giant walk-in closet. Imagine doing that for books? Buying a whole house just to put your books in–well, that would be a library I guess. But still, not a bad concept, really.)

Charles Dickens Loved Late Night Walks

So I was going to write about flaneury–no, not ‘flattery’ you damn spellcheck! For as I was looking for The Myth of Sisyphus I spotted a book on those writers who loved to go for long walks at night, such as Charles Dickens. I must say, I’ve never done that before. When I wake up in the middle of the night, and can’t get to sleep, my first inclination is not to get up and go outside in the dark and walk 20 kilometres through the city to another house; but that’s just what Charles Dickens was known to do. He’d get up–he was a terrible sleeper–and walk out of the house and wander the streets in the middle of the night. It sounds splendid, but I believe it just wouldn’t work as well out here in the suburbs of Calgary in -25 degrees celsius. It just wouldn’t.

But you see, Dickens did this, and he loved it–oh the writing that oozed out of him at the end of these walks! He wrote about how alive he felt after walking almost eight hours straight in the middle of the night and finally reaching his destination. The walks kept him energized–he couldn’t write without them!

I read that and then think about what it would be like for me to do that.

Death In The Snow–Or The Beginnings Of The Next Great Canadian Novel

It’s 2am–can’t sleep. I get this frantic urge to go for a walk. Slipping downstairs, I stretch on my winter jacket and fumble around for half an hour in the dark for my gloves–can only find one . . . Then when I finally find my gloves, another ten minutes for my hat . . . Then I pull my knee high winter boots on, the ones that protect one up to -65 degrees celsius. I open the door as the wind blows a foot of snow into my doorway. I venture out, my heart pounding and this drive to be outside takes hold of me–oh the prose that shall pour forth! Then, I get about two blocks down the street and am overtaken by the cold. My face freezes up, my feet slip on a glassy surface of ice, and I tumble into a snow bank where I freeze to death belly up. Then–it starts snowing.

Sounds to me like the ultimate Canadian novel . . .

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