Friday, November 12, 2010

The skinny part of the book...

Marko Twittered something (Tweeted? Whatever you kids today call it...) yesterday that really struck a chord with me:
"There needs to be a word for that ennui you feel right after reading a great novel...awe and loss in equal measure."
I know I'm reading a really, really good story when, as the book gets thin in my right hand and the plot builds to its denouement, I find myself consciously reading more slowly, trying to draw the experience out as long as possible.

Have you ever walked out of a movie theater completely disoriented as to time and place, so caught up had you been in on-screen events for the last couple hours? I distinctly remember that feeling after watching Inception; also the first time I saw The Matrix. Have you ever looked up after reading "finis" and closing the covers and had the same sensation, needing a moment to realize that you were back here on planet Earth?

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yup, happens all the time.

Chris

og said...

This is why there are certain authors whose books i ration. There are a finite number of things written by Kipling, Twain, Hemmingway, Saki, etc. and when I have read them all there will be no more, ever. I've already exhausted Kipling and it breaks my heart.

Joe in PNG said...

Oh. Yeah. Two films: "Requiem for a Dream" and "End of Evangelion" I think that after I finshed both of those movies, I just sat and shuddered for a number of minutes.

For books it was "Watchmen". Yes, it was a "graphic novel", but... I just had to read it over (and over) again.

McVee said...

Yes. Probably experienced first with Tolkien. I think then Asimov. I recall vividly ringworld. Neil Gaiman doe's it for Me too.
@og... so true.

Michael G. said...

This happens to me all the time, mostly with books. The worst case I can remember however was after my last Firefly + Serenity marathon. That's always a big one for me. I experienced this even while playing some games, e.g. Mass Effect 2.

staghounds said...

"So good I had to put it down and walk around for a minute."

And, OG, are you sure you have exhausted Kipling?

Even the speeches- like this one, where he talks to the walking dead?

Christina LMT said...

Yes.

I've even closed a book and turned right back to the first page.

Anonymous said...

Used to be the same for me when coming in from the woods after a successful hunt...whether or not I was bringing Bambi's daddy with me.

Euphoria, contentment, kind of an expanded consciousness...and disappointment that it was over and *this* was my real reality.

Didn't experience it my last big hunt though, about seven or eight years ago. Various reasons; everything seemed different and my kids opted out. And my outlook as well as my bod (four effin' hours in a cramped and cold treestand, ugh) has changed I guess.

As to books, though, one advantage of age is that the forgetfulness that drives you batshit crazy in normal life is great for re-reading favorites...parts of it seem brand new and exciting all over again. :O)

AT

Stuart the Viking said...

Heh, the most vivid rememberance of that happening to me was many moons ago. It was the movie "Gremlins", yes the origional, in the theater. It was my first movie date, and the girl I went with was (or acted) scared through the whole movie and spent the entire time practically on my lap (get your mind out of the gutter, it wasn't like THAT, she did have boobs though). I was 13 and it was like stepping into another world.

s

Stuart the Viking said...

AT,

YES! It's the one perk to getting older. I'm not really THAT old yet, but my never very good to begin with memory has noticably slipped a little and it's like my library is new(ish) again. There is just enough familiarity in the books to make them seem like old friends with the benefit of not being acute enough to ruin the surprise plot twists. Excelent!

s

Bram said...

I'm ticked when I finish a good book and I don't have another good one in the queue. I think "dammit, now I'm going to be reading crap and scouring Amazon reviews for a month."

Ancient Woodsman said...

All the great authors & classics are like that to a degree. I include Norman MacLean as his is often work related; that which isn't is still soul-capturing.

I had read 'Young Men and Fire' in the early '90s, read it again after the South Canyon fire in '94 ('Storm King Mountain' - of which his son John wrote) and again after a detail to Prineville, OR (see son John's work), and then as I was on assignment at Mann Gulch when it burned again in 2007, I re-read it yet again. Four times so far; four times different.

The connection to a writer is stark when one compares their own job & life so closely to a well-written story. Fiction usually has to make sense; truth does not, and is often all the more surreal in actual experience than what is imagined.

Borepatch said...

Years ago, I read a SF story about a place where memories could be transplanted from one person to another. The protagonist was paid to read all but the last chapter of great books, and then the memories transferred to rich but lazy clients, who'd finish the book.

The story had him holed up with some guns, holding off the po-po until he could actually finish the book.

I wish I could remember where I read it - probably Analog or Galaxy in the 1970s.

Phil R. said...

Somewhat related protip: Do not watch "Inception", listen to "Am I Awake?" by They Might Be Giants and put yourself to sleep with the aid of melatonin pills all in the same evening.

Captcha: arraces. From the Latin translation of "Dune"?

Joanna said...

"I've even closed a book and turned right back to the first page."

I read "Maniac McGee" by Jerry Spinelli four times in the same afternoon. I was, I believe, about 14.

My most recent experience with the oh-poop-it's-overs was with "The Chosen". And I don't know what's worse, that the book was over so fast or that I got a phone call right at the exact line when Reb Saunders begins directly addressing his son again.

bluesun said...

The movie "Spirited Away" was probably the most awe-inspiring "I need to see it again RIGHT NOW" for me. I don't think I moved a muscle while it played, just sat slack-jawed.

Ed Rasimus said...

I felt profound loss when I finished James Clavell's epic Shogun. It had been my daily companion for three weeks and suddenly I'd lost a friend.

Owen said...

for me, _anathem_ was like that. I wish i could unread it, so i could read it for the first time again.

George said...

Many years back, management awarded my work team with a couple hours off, and a movie to watch. The film was Air Force One, with Harrison Ford. I remember the pride, heroism, and valor of the President in the film. Then, reality set in, as we left the screening room, and we remembered the real President was William Jefferson Clinton!

Joanna said...

George wins. His prize is a pity cookie.

Anonymous said...

Same, but different...

Back in the day, when that sensuous white bytch would whisper in your ear in the voice of Dana, telling you how expansive is your perception and how brilliant are your thoughts...and then coldly, cruelly refuse to tell you again, no matter how hard you beg or how much of her essence you breathe...

Then her voice changes, now it's the raspy, guttural, evil sound of Zuul echoing inside your head for hours...confirming just what a fool and a loser and a chump you really are. *shudders*

AT

reflectoscope said...

Terry Pratchett does this to me all the time.

Jim

Noah D said...

Gene Wolfe, Book of the New Sun.

Stretch said...

"Well, I'm home."
The last words of LOTR. Left me empty for weeks.
Only TV that left me feeling that way was the end of The Prisoner aired by CBS in '66(?).

Hunter said...

@Ed Rasimus:
Shogun. Yes, I finished Shogun for the first time, left it for a couple of hours and then started it again.
Unfortunately, it was finals week of my Rat year at VMI and that's why I do not have a VMI degree.

karrde said...

Gotta say, Neil Stephenson almost did that to me a coupla' times.

Then I read Anathem, and he did it for real.

I think the ending of Return of the King (book form, of course) did that to me, and the Tale of the Children of Hurin (as first told in The Silmarillion, and as told in the expanded-into-full-novel form) also did it.

Anonymous said...

I remember being amazed, delighted, and surprised when the refrigerator light came on.

I had taken a break from "Alas, Babylon" by Pat Frank. This was probably 30 years ago, and I still remember how that light, that commonplace occurrence was such a pleasant surprise. Sort of an "I'll be damned - will you look at that" moment.

It wasn't quite what you are talking about, but related - I was so far into the depressing part of the story that real life was a joyful rediscovery.

wolfwalker said...

On the audio-visual side, some of the best episodes of Babylon 5 were like that. Also any of the original Star Wars trilogy, the original King Kong, and numerous other classic films.

In written form ... oh, my. Too many to count. Almost anything by Misty Lackey or Anne McCaffrey. Almost anything by David Weber .. well, at least early Weber, before he succumbed to 'needs-editing-itis.' Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Dragon's Egg by Robert Forward. The "Rings of the Master" mega-novel by Jack Chalker.

What really gets my dander up, however, is when I slow down my reading that way, get to the very last page ... and find out it's a cliffhanger ending, and I have to wait a year or two to read the rest of the story.

Anonymous said...

Reading the final Pratchett book and knowing, as he said, that it was really the end.
OldeForce

RauĆ°bjorn said...

'Tis a sign of artistry true an' pure.

BCFD36 said...

I've seen several mentions of Tolkein. Well, here's one more. When I was 13 or 14 and finished The Return of the King, and all of the appendicies, I went to the library to find anything else I could find by or about Tolkein. Then I went to the big library in San Jose. Then I went to the bigger library at Stanford. I was in a serious funk.

Hunter said...

A closely related occurrence is that evil, green-eyed jealousy felt when handing someone else a book to read for the first time, one of those books that you have read the covers off, trying to regain the feeling we have been discussing.
For me, out of so many, "The Once and Future King" is still a book I sincerely wish I could read once again. Most Verne. Kent Anderson's two, "Sympathy for the Devil" and "Night Dogs".