A Fit Imagination
By Christopher Moore
Reading, especially reading fiction, is like calisthenics for the imagination. Often the failure to solve problems and overcome adversity can be traced to a failure of imagination. As a society, we undervalue a fit and supple imagination beyond almost any other quality, yet again and again, we can point to cataclysmic events that could have been avoided if only someone with a voice and an imagination could have been heard before the events.
I was an only child, so the world of imagination opened by books became part of my life before I could even read. My father was a highway patrolman, who read a novel a day when I was little, and on his day off, he went to the library to get the next week’s supply of spy novels or the occasional western. He always brought a stack of books home for me as well, and our house was always filled with books. It never occurred to me to be bored, because I could always pick up a book and escape into a story, which clearly influenced who I would become when I grew up. I remember staging scenes from Jules Verne’s, The Mysterious Island in my room with plastic Army men. At age twelve or so, I started reading the stories of Ray Bradbury, and for the first time, I think it really occurred to me that there might be a craftsman behind the story, someone who was guiding me through it, and I thought I might like be that craftsman. I started writing stories around then.
Right now I’m reading a book called Beat the Reaper, by Josh Bazell, a terrific first novel by a young doctor who lives here in San Francisco. It came out in 2009, but I’m so far behind on my “to read” list, that I’m only getting to it now. It’s exquisitely paced, funny, and peppered with interesting inside tidbits of about medicine and organized crime that give the story dimension and credibility. Beyond that I’m living in the world of Medieval Venice, research for a another novel based in Shakespeare that I’m working on. My main research books is called, Shylock: A Legend and Its Legacy, by John J. Gross – an in-depth examination of Shakespeare’s iconic money-lender, through an historic perspective of Jews in Medieval and Renaissance European society.