White Spacing

You have a favorite book – one that deeply engages.  Perhaps you re-read it now and again for the pure pleasure of it.  Then you hear that the book is going to be made into a movie.  At this point, you likely groan in anticipatory despair.  They (whoever ‘they’ are) will never get it right.  They’ll have cheesy special effects, or cast some dismal pretty-face/box office darlings that aren’t at all how you pictured the major characters to be.  True that.

Stories are laid down in dark letters on a white page.  In the riveting reads, the white spaces between and around the dark text is where the colors, fragrances, heat and cold are brought by the reader to flesh out the words.  It’s called ‘white spacing’ and it is viscerally powerful and a whole boatload of fun.

Reading as a Critical Necessity

You had to become a reader in my family. And not just a magazine article in the doctor’s waiting room or Reader’s Digest Laff of the Week kind of reader. Oh, no. It was inevitable that you become a voracious, no holds barred, classics-to-max, flashlight under the covers, can’t-hear-anyone-I’m-in-a-book type of reader. And so I did.

When I had drained the elementary school library dry (except for books like “Orchids for Sue’s First Dance” or “Billy’s Paper Route Adventure” – though that was long ago, I’m sure there are similarly stupid titles on shelves today, possibly about vampires going to dances), my father took me to a large public library. He had earnestly done his research and compiled a list of classic stories to check out. To this day I remember the way the sun came through the high windows, the smell of pagedust, the sibiliance of library-appropriate whispers. Sigh.

And just to seal the deal, the family had a genetic propensity toward the dramatic. Oratory. Declamation. Articulate delivery of beloved words. Reading Aloud With Effect. So that, when I scanned the small, black squiggles they became, in my head, technicolor epics. I laughed, cried, quested, loved. Was offended, relieved, enraged, ennobled, inspired, uplifted, depressed, redeemed.