I’ve walked through the bookstores year by year. Year by year, I have watched the Fiction section dwindle and die. From a whole store to an aisle or two, now a single shelf, if any. Where I come from, no one has time for fiction or a short poem, and surely, no time for whatever it is I do, lying neither here nor there. Where I come from, we are so desperate to use our time to make things happen, to get out of our neighbourhoods, our terrible influences and great troubles, that we do not have the time to read some words about the rain. We must feel as if something has happened when the words end. We must get an insight out of everything, and if not insight, then something we can project into the world. Oh, it would be a travesty if we did not make the most of our time, if we did not sit and let things happen, especially if that use of our time is with reading. At least, this is what everyone tells me.
But I look at them as if I have been betrayed. If this is how it is for everyone here, where then, did I come from? What happened to me, and more importantly, when did it happen? Why can I sit and think about a cup of coffee and not have it take anything away from me? Or should I reverse this interrogation, and would it make all the sense then?
Where I come from, we do not talk about this; instead, we simply say, “I do not like reading stories.” Where I come from, even those who believe in religion seldom read the books they quote so often, or worse, paint the town with in enamel or, sometimes, blood. Where I come from, people are too busy, so no one will read what I write, for this does not give them anything. At least, that is what I have been told time and again, but then, I think there is more to it than meets the eye. The words I write do give people something—they give them a moment of uncomfortable scrutiny and ask: why can I not celebrate this life, have a moment of respite? The answer is too difficult to face.
And where I come from, we do not face anything, especially our need to squeeze every second out. Here, we watch the Fiction section of a bookstore die, inch by inch, all the while asking: why does the world always feel like it is going to end?