Ever struggled through a book wondering why you continue to read such garbage? Ever read the first page or maybe two and figure you just can’t stomach to read anymore? That’s how I felt about Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain. But It was all the rage. The must read. I silently stared at my writer friends while they rambled on and on and on about the sheer beauty of this book. Had they lost their minds? I managed to get through the first two pages then decided no matter how great this book supposedly was, it just wasn’t for me.
I felt so embarrassed. So ashamed. I called myself a writer, yet couldn’t stomach the first two pages of the National Book Award Winner. I never told my writer friends how I truly felt. I was ashamed I didn’t ‘get it’. Maybe I should revert back to picture books. Certainly I could ‘get’ those.
So Cold Mountain got shoved to the back of the bookshelf. The very back. And then the movie came out and I watched mainly because Jude Law is like oh my gosh good-looking. The scenery was beautiful too. And the story – it wasn’t bad. Yeah, I cried.
Then a funny thing happened. Several years later, I was cleaning off the bookshelves and found the well-hidden copy of Cold Mountain. I held it my hands for a long time, wondering if I should give it another try. I was between books so in need of something to read. So I stuffed it in my purse to take to work with me the next day. I’d try the first page again and if it didn’t click, I’d spend the rest of my lunch hour browsing the newspaper left in the break room.
But it clicked. Oh how it clicked! I finally ‘got it’. And I got it within the first paragraph, not just the page. I absolutely, totally, undeniably fell in love with the language Frazier used. The words worked together like an old married couple completing one another’s sentences. The words, the placement of punctuation, the sparse dialogue. The beauty of the way everything worked together sent chills up my spine.
If I hadn’t given Cold Mountain a second chance, I’d have gone through life appreciating the beauty of Jude Law, not the language used to tell the story.
Have you ever given a book a second chance?