Last summer Bill decided he wanted to read all of the greatest books in literature and asked me to help him pick them out. Oh, man, I was like a kid making my Christmas list: okay, there’s To Kill a Mockingbird and The Bell Jar and The Scarlet Letter and of course, The Great Gatsby (the greatest book in American literature SAYS ME!) and…WHOA, said Bill just as I was getting my literary ball rolling. “Just give me three to start.” So of course Gatsby has to be last because one cannot top the greatest book in American literature SAYS ME, so I told him I would narrow it down.
Then about a month ago I “borrowed” his Kindle and added three books to his library, thinking I was being quite stealthy in this endeavor. I forgot that he would get three separate emails the next day listing all the books. Surprise attack by Heidi averted. Anyway, last week he was ready to actually begin reading one of these books and I selected The Bell Jar, because we plan on driving to DC to see an exhibit of items belonging to Sylvia Plath at the National Portrait Gallery this spring. Okay, actually I’m planning on it; Bill is going to be dragged along. He’ll be driving, but he’ll be dragging.
He’s been reading the book for a week and I haven’t gotten much of a response. I mean, I guess since nothing blew up on the first page and there are no spies, this is decidedly a different type of book than he’s used to. But that’s what he likes to read and that’s okay. Since I’m writing a memoir, I read many of those and nothing ever explodes except a person’s life.
On Sunday night, though, Bill had an epiphany. As we were sitting in Panera last night, as we have done twice a week for the last decade, he told me that while the “story” in The Bell Jar is a bit slow for him, he had an epiphany while reading Plath’s writing. He realized that poets THINK DIFFERENTLY. He came to the jarring conclusion that I think like Sylvia thought: in images and vivid descriptions and beautiful details.
“I’ve been married to you for 25 years and I never really understood how differently you think,” he said with a true understanding that was, honestly, soul-stirring. Now I’m like Sally Field: “You get me! You really get me!”
I think this was totally worth stealing his Kindle.