Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Traveling through time

I am like cheese, in that I do not travel well. I do most of my traveling through books. Luckily, I can also travel through time. One of my favorite books in recent years is "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. This book sent me on a quest for everything I could find about the Chicago Worlds Fair of 1893. Just looking at the old photos of the majestic white buildings, made me forget that they were made of plaster and cloth, and the wish that they were still standing has never left me. I fall into the photos, imagining I am dressed to the nines, boarding the Ferris Wheel with my first box of Cracker Jacks. I marvel at the accomplishments of women, in a time when women got little respect. The gardens are spectacular, but only available through photographs, now.To me, the murder mystery was secondary. The story of the Exposition was so fascinating, I could have read about it forever, and probably will. Another of Larson's books "Isaac's Storm" took me to Galveston in 1900 witnessing the most horrific storm of the time. The horror of the elements can only be imagined by those of us who have never been directly affected by such severe weather. I was in Shreveport after Hurricane Katrina, staying in a hotel with some of the survivors. They had the look of shell shocked soldiers, having lost everything but their lives, yet they still have hope for the future. As in Galveston, they spoke of rebuilding, bigger, better and brighter.

I love books that take me somewhere, that describe a place or time I will never see. I just finished Anita Shreve's "Strange Fits of Passion". I love the way she described the fishing village, the weather and the characters. I have always wanted to see the east coast and she took me there. Although a tragic story, I loved this book. Her words took me there, to another decade, and a cold forbidding place, that I would like to visit.

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