Train of Thought #2: The Twenty-Minute Novel

I have always considered myself to be quite a swift reader.  A ‘speed-reader’ almost.  I couldn’t give you a rate of words per minute, or any other facts and figures to back up this claim, but I have always been proud of the quantity of printed words that I have hungrily devoured each year since my early childhood.

Like many other people, I find the train a good place to read.  My twenty-minute commute allows me to open up a portal into a fictional fantasy world which, depending on the story-telling skill of the author, creates a secure bubble-world immune from infiltration by the penetrating clamour of mobile ‘phone conversations and the rustle of broadsheet newspapers.

Any careful literary observers would have been impressed by the turn-around-time of my reading matter.  I was the quickest reader on the block.  Until…

The Speed-Read Kid blew into town.

Bad enough that he took my preferred seat on the train but, every day––and I mean, every day––he would be reading a different novel.

Moby Dick, War and Peace: length holds no fear for him.  Each time I saw him he would be reading something anew.

Is he a reviewer?  A pro?  Or perhaps he rides the trains all day, reading, endlessly.  Back and forth, reading, reading.  Or does he just cheat?  First line/last line.  The condensed novel two-step.

Why don’t I just ask him?

Talk to someone on the train?  Never.  It’s why I read in the first place.

© Simon Turner-Tree


Simon Turner-Tree graciously concedes defeat to the Speed-Read Kid.

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