The long train ride on

The long train ride on Friday gave me time to finish Louise de la Valliere and The Man in the Iron Mask, by archetypical historical-populist Alexandre Dumas. Together with The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years Later, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Dumas’ Three Musketeers series runs to over 1.25 million words. The last chunk I was reading took up 2 megabytes in my iPaq, which is twice as long as the whole Lord of the Rings. I like to go to the bookstore and look at the twelve running inches that Dumas’ series takes up in the Oxford Classics paperback editions. I beat you, Dumas! I read the whole thing! Take that!

I might not have the healthiest reading style in the whole world — it’s kind of like the three-day canoe trips I took at summer camp. We’d have three days to go, say, 30 miles, and our counselor would spur us on to prodigious efforts on the first day. “Come on, guys! The farther we go today, the easier we can take it tomorrow!” We’d slog on and on, imagining the long, lazy day spent in a riverside campsite the next day. Bright and early the next morning, though, we’d get inspired for another death march. “Come on, guys! If we go the whole rest of the way today, we don’t have to do anything tomorrow! We’ll all be cooking hot dogs and playing mumblety-peg all day, and then the other groups will get in all tired and we’ll laugh at them! Yeah!” …And we’d power through the rest of the day, finish the hike, then look at each other, shrug our shoulders, and take the van home.

Maybe my counselor had a girlfriend in town, or something. Anyhow, my Dumas Death March is complete. Sort of; I want to read The Count of Monte Cristo before the movie comes out on Friday. I bought the book today, only to discover that I’d purchased the abridged version. No way, no abridged versions for the conqueror of Dumas’s mountains of prose! I took it back, but the only other version there had the movie poster art on it. I couldn’t buy that; I get really embarassed when I read books that have the movie poster on them. So, in summary: 1) Death march reader: 2) No cover art. Does this make me an endearingly idiosyncratic reader, the kind that write witty memoirs containing their work published in the New Yorker, or just a freak? Unfortunately, the look I got from the bearded bookstore clerk today seemed to vote for the latter. Pointing to a mass-market glossy with a scowling Antonio Banderas on it: “…but it’s the same book, sir.”

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