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.