Escape Route

You can escape into art, even if it's not.

It’s always good to have a way out. Even if you are lucky enough not to live in a war zone or a country where paranoid folks can walk the streets carrying concealed weapons, there comes a time for most of us when we wish we could just get out of Dodge.

For me, that time is now. It’s not just the headlines. There’s really no getting away from those anymore. It’s not even the weather. There’s no place without it.

I yearn for a vacation from the internal critic that mutters constantly inside me, noting with disdain how I could have done better, should have done more, and definitely should have known better.

Be that as it may, I need to recharge my aged batteries if I hope to finish strong in this human race. And while a trip to Paris or Tahiti is out of the question, a dive into my favorite authors’ works is nearly as refreshing, and certainly less expensive and exhausting.

So, Jane Austen it is. Also P.G. Wodehouse, Tom Holt, Terry Pratchett and Christopher Moore. Such a list will not impress the heavy heads in the audience. But escape reading isn’t an ego contest. It’s a prescription to remove gloom, to reduce leaden anxiety.

Millions of people enjoy reading murder mysteries, and who am I to blame them? The accepted fantasy of the murder mystery genre is that murders get solved, that murderers get what’s coming to them. In reality, I suspect this is less often the case. To me here’s nothing “cozy” about murder.

However, that’s why we love fiction, right? Only in fiction can you be relatively certain that the good guys will triumph, even in the most noir pulp fiction. And if, for some annoying post-modern reason, they don’t, you can always throw the book across the room, or out the window “Silver Linings Playbook” style, and go do the crossword puzzle.

My advice is: take your time, enjoy a break when you can. Because reality will still be there, snarling and scratching, whenever you’re ready to return to the fray.

Happy holiday!

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