Art or literature or music or movies are community possessions. They are meant to be experienced and then discussed in community and conversation. Finding those people with whom these can be discussed and experienced can be a difficult thing, especially if ones tastes are as eclectic as mine.
The other day a friend and I were sitting at Starbucks when I flagged down a man who had been seated next to us and was beginning to leave. I had seen him reading there before and so I stopped him and asked what for him would be his ‘go to’ books, books or authors he loved to read and to which he often returns. He pulled up a chair and we talked for 15 minutes or more. It was not even until the end of the conversation when I realized that I did not even know his name.
A few days later he passed my table at Starbucks to ask me about a couple more books, and we found out that after the previous conversation, I had ordered a book he had recommended and he had ordered one I had recommended. This is the way, it seems to me, art of whatever variety is meant to be appreciated.
Notes for those who must know details:
He favors mature, classic authors – George Eliot, Fyodor Dostoevsky. He managed to get Middlemarch back onto my ‘must read’ list.
He mentioned a passing interest in the Kennedy assassination, and so I recommended to him Stephen King’s 11/22/63. He found out I was a Presbyterian pastor (we both had read and loved Gilead by Marilyn Robinson) and he recommended, and I ordered, Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris.
And, I should add, that the friend with whom I was sitting was a passing acquaintance until the day I saw him at Starbucks reading King’s On Writing. We bonded immediately.