When my brain is fogged, I can watch glossy, fluffy TV.
Undemanding on the brain, and easy on the eye, these are far more manageable than a programme where I have to make an effort. Nothing worthy or subtitled on those days.
So, I’d have thought that the same would apply to reading. Surely something light and drivel-y would be the way to go?
It seems not.
My collection of pulp fiction is of no use to me at those times, and it’s taken me a long time to work out why. Bad fiction requires too much work from the reader. It’s as if my brain is shooting out tendrils which can’t get any purchase on the prose. There’s nothing to grasp on to.
In contrast, I read most of Colm Tóibín’s Empty Family: Stories in a morning at a dance competition last week. Tired me, lots of noise, heavy dancing shoes, children alternately bored, hyper, disappointed, happy. And Colm. The tendrils were not for loosening.
I was gripped by the short stories. Tales of returning home, of death and a nursing home. Tales of defining oneself apart from one’s people. Powerful tales from an outside. What is ‘home’? Who am I? I’m still processing the line ‘Home is where my dead are.’ You may be surprised to read that these are positive stories, full of love and acceptance, certainly not depressing tales of woe. I didn’t cry even once!
Tóibín is no light and easy writer, but he’s remarkably accessible. Who knew he’d be easier on the brain than plot driven page turners? I’ll save those for when I’m awake.