in which the book asserts a certain capability and exercises it

as told to Glenn Ingersoll

Excerpt from Autobiography of a Book

I like to imagine you holding me. I may just be a book but I have an imagination. And what I imagine is your hands.

Your hands holding me so I don’t fall down, so your eyes can get a good look at me, a good look at everything. I hold nothing back. And you hold it all. I like that, thinking of you.

There are those who curl a book’s cover back, the better to keep the book going one-handed. There are those who, when they turn to a new page, press it down, stress the book against its binding so it won’t snap shut.

There are those who keep handy a highlighter pen and whisk it across a few words that strike them, forcing those words out of the ordinary. What had been, for all you could see at a glance, a collection of objects of equal importance, has suddenly been graded. A few words now shout, their brothers murmuring around them. There are even those who jot notes of their own in the book’s margins. These notes will sometimes agree with, sometimes argue with what the book thought it had the sole authority, within its own body, to declare.

Do I not have control over my own body?

Who does? When you get right down to it. Who does?

Really. I don’t need control. I don’t. Write upon me. Don’t feel scolded if I say I am uncertain that’s what I want. Even those who surrender do not give over without mixed emotions. Is a book a conversation?

Are you moving your lips? You are probably not moving your lips. When a child is learning to read he tends to move his lips, shaping the words as though they were not truly recognizable until they became physical, became objects with a mouthshape. As you grow more practiced your lips can no longer keep up with the eyes, with the mind’s voice, with the silence.

I like to imagine you holding me, fingering a page.


Glenn Ingersoll works for the Berkeley Public Library where he hosts Clearly Meant, a reading & interview series. He has two chapbooks, City Walks (broken boulder) and Fact (Avantacular) He keeps two blogs, LoveSettlement and Dare I Read. Recent work has appeared in Courtship of Winds, Visitant, and The Opiate.

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