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Serendipity in Reading

What fun it is when your current reading evokes the book you last finished, and somehow by serendipity creates a domino effect. The Year of Ice evokes Maurice in the way the character splendidly but also sadly describes how happiness in such forbidden love can only be found in sleep–a dream from which ones doesn’t want to wake up. Now, twenty years after I read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, I am amazed how much of the book I had missed and forgotten. Of course, Holden Caulfield’s narrative goes off the tangent, relating random episodes of people that he had met as his mood changes. Like Kevin Doyle in The Year of Ice, Holden is a borderline kid whose future is uncertain after his expulsion from Pencey Prep. Taking a stopover in New York City before heading home, he calls for a prostitute with whom he only wants to talk. Whether it was 1978 or 1958, teenagers faced the challenge of finding themselves the pace in the world for which schools and families didn’t necessarily have the answer. I flipped through the first few pages of my pocket-sized paperback and saw that I had recorded the date on which I purchased the book: Oct 31, 1989. The bookstore from which I acquired has long gone out of business. The retail space of the former Doubleday Books has been succeeded by at least three incarnations. I’ll leave you these thoughts before I go away for my birthday—the blog might not be updated regularly. The cause that brings me to this excursion (I usually don’t go away for birthday), of course, is serendipitous itself.

19 Responses

  1. Happy Birthday. And sweet sounds the serendipity that carries you to your birthday abroad. Best wishes.

  2. On that serendipitous note, you have a wonderful, relaxing birthday! Bring good books!

    • Turns out to be very relaxing. We were literally the only guests at the little resort of 12 rooms. Had the whole pool to ourselves, occupied this outdoor reading spot in the morning when we had coffee. 🙂

  3. A few months ago, we talked about literature pairing. Somehow the serendipitous pairings (and trips too, I hope) are often even more enjoyable!
    Happy Birthday, Matt – have a wonderful time!

  4. I have had many experiences where two unrelated books turn out to have something specific in common. This isn’t as meaningful as what you described, but I read one book that talked about a “Kaypro” computer,–a brand I had never heard of before–and then the very next book I read also mentioned a Kaypro. Very odd.

    Where are you going for your B-day? Have a good one.

    • I think these coincidences, however odd and mysterious they might be, are to refresh life a bit. We went to Palm Springs to stay in a small resorts. Spent most of the time reading and (reading) in the pool—leaning on the pool side with a book while you’re immersing in the water! 🙂

  5. It seems like the blogosphere is rediscovering Catcher in the Rye of late, and I’m feeling like it’s time for me to re-read it too! I last read it at 16, when I loved it dearly, so I’m hoping the bloom will still be on the rose for me at 26!

    Also, Happy Birthday! Birthday trips are the best!

    • Twenty years after I first read the book, I still find the language of The Catcher in the Rye very raw and in-your-face. It’s fun to read aloud some of the passages!

  6. Happy birthday! Enjoy your trip!


  7. Happy Birthday!

  8. Serendipity is close to my heart now, so yeah!
    And btw, happy birthday….

  9. Happy Birthday, Matt!

    It is fun when you have an “aha!” moment while reading, isn’t it?

  10. Happy Birthday. Have a good time.

  11. Happy birthday. I am also celebrating 2 family birthdays, in absentia. Serendipitious.

  12. Thanks everyone for the birthday greetings! I had a great time relaxing, reading, sun-tanning, and eating…

  13. sorry I missed you brithday Matt. but here is a late happy birthday hope is was a great one and many more. had i known I might have sent you a bottle of hugo boss 6

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