To Read

Within a week or two my hunger had turned into a feeding frenzy. My parents were unable to separate me from books, from morning till evening and beyond. They were the ones who had pushed me to read, and now they were the sorcerer's apprentice: I was the water that couldn't be stopped.

Just come and look, your son is sitting half naked on the floor in the middle of the corridor, if you please, reading. The child is hiding under the table, reading. That crazy child has locked himself in the bathroom again and he's sitting on the toilet reading, if he hasn't fallen in, book and all, and drowned himself. The child was only pretending to fall asleep, he was actually waiting for me to leave, and after I left the room, he waited a few moments, then switched the light on without permission, and now he seems to be sitting with his back against the door so that you and I can't get in, and guess what he's doing. The child can read fluently without vowels. Do you really want to know what he's doing? Well, now the child says he'll just wait for me to finish part of the newspaper. Now we've got another newspaper addict in the house. That child didn't get out of bed the whole weekend, except to go to the toilet. And even then he took his book with him. He reads all day long, indiscriminately, stories by Asher Barash or Shomnann, one of Pearl Buck's Chinese novels, The Book of Jewish Traditions, The Travels ofMarco Polo, The Adventures of Magellan and Vasco da Gama, Advice for the Elderly in Case of Influenza, the Newsletter of the BeitHakerem District Council, The Kings of Israel and Judah, Notable Events of 1929, pamphlets about agricultural settlement, back issues of Working Women's Weekly, if it goes on like this, he'll soon be eating bindings and drinking compositor's ink. We're going to have to step in and do something. We must put a stop to this: it's already becoming odd and in fact rather worrying.

--- From A Tale of Love and Darkness
Amos Oz
©2004 Harcourt
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