1953 – the long goodbye ~ raymond chandler

Summer is coming to my cluttered little suburban townhouse. I can feel the warmth seeping slowly into my skin, waking me from the complacent stupor of winter.

For the past six years, I’ve worked long hours in an air-conditioned building. My summers have been swallowed by deadlines. In the evening, I emerge from the office into the still-balmy evening, flinching at the sudden change in temperature. I take the train home, where I fall asleep on the couch in front of the fan, my body curled around my laptop like a lover, my fingers still on the keys.

This time of year, I live for the weekend, when I can venture out into the sunlight and shake away the exhaustion of the week. But every weekend is tinged with dread – because almost before I know what’s happening, it’s Monday morning again, and though the sun is shining, deadlines are beckoning and I run into their arms.

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1952 – the old man and the sea ~ ernest hemingway

I read The Old Man and the Sea on a Sunday morning; the glorious middle day of a long weekend.

The weather outside was perfectly miserable. I woke up late, and, with nothing else to do, I reached for the little book where it sat, right next to the pile of books near my bed. I propped myself up with a pillow, pulled the covers up to my chin to stay warm – and I began to read.

I’m not sure when I emerged from the pages. It was probably two or three hours later. I was slightly dazed to find myself back in the real world.

In the time I’d been reading, the house could have burnt to the ground around me, a brass band could have marched down the quiet street where I live playing The Prodigy’s controversial 1997 hit “Smack My Bitch Up”.

I wouldn’t have noticed a thing…

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1950 – the 13 clocks ~ james thurber

Just pretend you’ve discovered something genuinely special. Something no one else knows about. Something amazing.

It could be anything. It could be a bar or a beach or a band. Or even a book.

Do you keep it to yourself, so no one else finds out about it? Do you swear never to tell a soul, clutching your discovery to your chest for as long as you possibly can? When someone else finally discovers this special, unique thing and loves it just as much as you do…do you resent that?

Or do you love your discovery so completely that every moment it remains a secret is like torture to you? The merest thought of this mysterious thing sets your soul soaring; you can’t keep it to yourself, or you just might explode. It simply must be shared.

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1948 – the harp in the south ~ ruth park

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

I was about halfway through Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky when I realised what that little nagging voice in the back of my thoughts had been trying to tell me all week:

I was reading the wrong book.

The Sheltering Sky was published in 1949. I should have been reading Ruth Park’s The Harp in the South, published in 1948. Oops?

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