"I've been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library."

by Amy Turn Sharp


I was trying to tell my friend John about reading The Great Gatsby and how the last line of that book was stunning. How it has sat relic in my head for years, but I couldn't grab it for some reason. I could only see myself reading Fitzgerald and listening to Joy Division in my tiny bedroom in Union Furnace, Ohio. I could only feel the sentence.

In my adulthood I have been rereading books a lot. I read with wicked wanderlust as a child and young adult and I know I missed much of the matter because my body and soul had not caught up with my cognition. I was given free reign in the elementary school library at age 7 because I was pushing and pushing and needed to hear the crack of spines and tote heavier books back home. My parents met with the teacher and the librarian and they let me read anything. It made all the difference.

My mother has at times tried to censor me or pretend that I may not think they way I do, but she never one time censored my reading. She let me bite down hard on all of the words even when I was more Nancy Drew than Judy Blume. Even when I could never have understood what the hell love was or why people hurt each other. She just let me look and my whole life has been based on that freedom.
Just take it in and later filter it out.

And then last night as I placed my hand on the Fitzgerald book in my office it came to me like a vision. A man walked right past my eyes and he was wearing a bowler hat and had on a sandwich board and it said:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.