I found a good bookmark while out today. It says in old west print “This is where I fell asleep”, I thought it was cute recalling many times where I insisted I was reading by osmosis, a book folded like hands across my chest, a light still burning on an end table.
Seeking a place for said new bookmark , I lifted the next book I was going to read from the shelf and let it fall open. And what to my great interest and amazement did I find, but an old black and white photo resting between two pages of a short story by Truman Capote.
What’s this here?!
I was surprised because I didn’t at all expect to find a bookmark, though I have before found a bookshop advertisement or an old receipt saving pages I usually look for a date placing the moment this book was read in time, aiding my placemark in reality , in time. Looking at the front of library books does the same thing for me. When was this book first borrowed or last borrowed? I ponder the others before me, what interest drove them to this title, did they have to read it for an assignment? Or like me did they hear about it from somewhere and searched to find a copy.
Ah but this, a photo! Not only a story of who owned the book before but a picture, a picture of 3 individuals. The moment felt strangely intimate. As if I had opened a door in a acquaintances house and found something they didn’t mean me to see. A relic of their personal reading habits. Were these subjects relatives now old or perhaps gone? Where was the reader when she felt the need to put this story down. I felt like I was looking deep within, moment within a moment. When the picture was taken perhaps in the 1950’s one of the ladies is looking down, maybe she is bashful, maybe she wanted to check her outfit before the photo was taken. A moment within a moment, when the reader was distracted by a phone call and saved her place with this photo.
Vintage Japan? The women are wearing kimonos. The man in a suit looking prepared. It is a shrine or temple…could be China…it must be cold outside. Vintage photos turn up in all kinds of places, the are displayed with post cards in old shoe boxes I find. One may peek my interest. Usually people’s faces or something about the story they might tell. I picked this one up and love the taffeta dresses. They are going to a formal and the awkwardness makes me smile. The girls are very close, one more confident in herself than the other, look how she loops her arm in her friend’s, and the stance of her feet, posed in a most becoming way.
The interesting thing in finding an old photo as a bookmark is that I also use old photos for the very same purpose, do the previous and I share the same affinity for the past, for a good story?
I find the photo must fit the tone and mood of the author I’m reading. Old 50’s photos with memoirs, travel photos shot from the peaks of some mountain in Montana for sweeping romances or Robert Frost. The bookmark can alter the perception of a the text. You can’t have some picture of daisies and a teddy bear held between the pages of Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man! It would be a monstrosity to the senses, confusing all understanding of the imaginative process. Aesthetics even in reading are very important, I am very sensitive to these things 😛
Now it’s time to turn to my novel and leave you reader to an evening of adventure, may I recommend a good read?