Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Reading Between the Links

Share |

Today, time is the greatest luxury, the one thing that even money can’t buy much of. Our lives are consumed checking email, texting, blogging, tweeting, friending, Skype-ing, posting, uploading, down-loading: myriad tasks we never used to do. It seems that with the introduction of each new time-saving digital mod con, we end up with less time, not more. Too often, reading becomes one of the casualties, like healthy eating and going to the gym. I know I should read more, but excuse me while I respond to that email.

Personally, I enjoy reading a great book as leisurely as possible. In fact I find virtue, not shame, in confessing that I am a slow reader. I linger over a well-turned phrase, like I am touching velvet or inhaling the scent of wildflowers. Not surprisingly, F. Scott figures prominently in my library, as do many of the great 19th century novelists, beautiful writers all, writing for an unhurried audience in a less hurried age.

One of my favorite slow reads is that classic chestnut, Madame Bovary. I find Flaubert’s writing intoxicating, timeless and, speaking as a film buff, surprisingly cinematic. His meticulously crafted sentences, keen ear for dialogue and crosscutting conversations, that read like an Eisenstein montage looks, create a remarkably fluid aesthetic.

Flaubert’s works brilliantly capture the substance and the petty minutiae of a bourgeois society whose cynical values and lapsed ethics are timeless. Madame Bovery chronicles life’s illusions, pettiness and betrayals, its corruption, self-interest and mean spiritedness with a characteristically unsparing poison pen. In Flaubert’s world view, the well-intentioned are punished and the bad, too often, are rewarded. Flaubert’s 19th century schemers could be cut from the pages of today’s business section. With razor-sharp wit, critical insights and cynical detachment, his work resonates in an ironic, postmodern age. Like Fitzgerald, James and Wharton, Flaubert should be savoured slowly, one delicious syllable at a time.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

David Tucker

David Tucker is an award-winning television writer, producer and director. His short story collection, One Way Ticket, is published by BookLand Press.

Go to David Tucker’s Author Page