Reading aloud: The White People, Cosmicomics

03/09/2009 § 2 Comments

All these are most secret secrets, and I am glad when I remember what they are, and how many wonderful languages I know, but there are some things that I call the secrets of the secrets of the secrets that I dare not think of unless I am quite alone, and then I shut my eyes, and put my hands over them and whisper the word, and the Alala comes.

-Arthur Machen

I really like that sentence. I like to call it my favorite of my favorite of my favorites.

Gemma likes when I read to her. We do this fairly regularly. The other night I started reading the story, The White People by Arthur Machen  to Gemma. We have decided to stop  this story.  It is longer than what Gemma and I try to read together but since I had loved The Great God Pan so much I thought it would be a good one to try before bed. Boy was I wrong. We abandoned it after about five pages. It is definitely not something one should read aloud to their loved one. It is wordy and abstract and more of a conversation in the vein of a Demonic Platonic dialogue. Riviting stuff, but when read aloud more like reading a How-To book aloud…as written by Socrates and Theatetus.

Oddly enough, the stories we have enjoyed reading aloud most are Lovecraft stories…and as long as you can get past the obstacle of saying things like Cthulhu, R’yleh, Yog-Sothoth, and Azozoth, it’s great. It’s also great to read American Folktales aloud as fast as you can. This is key.

I ended up finishing The White People on my own. So after abandoning that story we were in need of something else. Luckily, at Half Price Books I had just acquired Cosmicomics by Calvino and The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman for like four bucks.

I managed to read the first story of Cosmicomics, The Distance of the Moon, on the bus. It’s the story of some folks, with no vowels in their names (things like Qfwfq), who remember when the moon orbitted so close to the earth they could reach it with the help of a ladder and then harvest the lunar milk that collects in the crevices. It is also a story of unrequited love. I find it odd how many stories that have unpronounceable words end up being the best for reading aloud. To get around names like Qfwfq, I just said Q. Works fine. I’m sure there is some significance in Calvino’s use of nameing things like this but we are reading for enjoyment and not criticism.

Anyway, the story has beautiful imagery and is told in that special way that is particular to Calvino. I really enjoyed this story, and I think Gemma did as well.  I think it is a good candidate for reading aloud. There is something about the dreamy quality of Calvino’s words that deserve to be spoken.


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