I have been reading Wallace Stegner’s wonderful novel Crossing to Safety this afternoon. The book tells the story of a friendship between two academic couples. It is beautifully written, with more than its share of gently wise observations about friendship and the academy. I understand why it was so tremendously popular among our friends in Cambridge. Definitely worth a read.
The book contains the following snippet of dialogue, which I just read. A young graduate student has just driven four hours from Boston to the the cabin of his girl friend’s family in Vermont or New Hampshire. After sheepishly admitting that he forgot to pack anything, the assertive girl friend says:
- “. . . You must have brought something. Books? I never saw you without a green bag of books.” To her mother she says, “He reads everywhere — in the subway, between the acts at plays, at intermissions in Symphony Hall, on picnics, on dates.”
In her copy of the book, which I am reading, my wife heavily underlined the last sentence and wrote “Nate!” in the margin.
Thinking about it, I realize that I actually do take books with me on dates and that I did the same thing before we were married. (Might this explain my BYU dating career?) In my defence, however, I hasten to add that I don’t actually read the books while my date is around. On the other hand, it is nice to have something to do if she goes to the bathroom, etc. Besides, what if we were in a car accident on the way home, and I had to sit waiting for the ambulence to arrive to take my unconscious date to the hospital. I mean, you would want something to do wouldn’t you?