he library has reopened for book delivery. Coming off a Black Sails binge, I decided to reread Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.
What did I notice as I finished that first chapter?
I noticed how lame some of the other books I’ve recently read are. I just finished a Libertarian fiction that was, frankly, pretty damn dumb (if you now have literal heaven on earth, if the dead can return and you can visit, then why are we talking about the second amendment (with the author putting words in Jefferson’s mouth))? And then there was that yellowing space opera I also picked off which had undeveloped characters and a strange world that looked like the cheap set in a second-rate play. Nothing has really inspired me to reading – that’s why I’ve slowed down, maybe.
Then Treasure Island shows up and everything got better.
In the first chapter, you’ve got Billy Bones (with his sabre scar and his volcanic temper) lodging in Hawkin’s Admiral Benbow Inn. And when he’s not drinking rum, singing and scaring the locals in the taproom, he’s standing on the cove’s outlook, brass telescope in hand, watching for something. And his worries about a “one legged man”. He’s frightening and depressing all at once. The chapter ends with Doctor Livesey giving him an upper class dressing down, so satisfying.
What will happen next (well, I know, but I’m going to saver the whole black spot section tonight).
And that’s the difference between classics, books that engage you, body and soul, and books that are just lame vehicles to write words between covers or to set up a political point. And I’ve still got the mutiny, Silver changing sides, sniveling and courageous in turn, Jim’s act of cleverness at stealing the Hispaniola, the sad fate of Israel Hands, the discovery of Ben Gunn, all that. And I’m looking forward to it.
Thank goodness my library book arrived when it did and not while I was still shoveling through the others. That would have been painful to neglect it.
And if you haven’t read Treasure Island but like pirates, check it out (literally, from the library). Great read. Look for my review shortly!