There is a bookshop opposite a hotel my grandfather used to own. The hotel was a beautiful multistorey Queenslander-style building and was long ago knocked down and replaced by a square cement TAB. I heard the store next to the bookshop caught fire a few months back and have yet to venture to see if the bookshop survived. It was the sort of shop where you didn’t know how they survived financially, let alone a fire. You could barely walk for the piles of books, you had to climb over turrets and squeeze through caverns of pages of pre-loved stories. It was an adventure ebook readers would never have. On my last trip there, I sat in a corner of the store piled with Penguin classics, surrounded by the susurrus of falling pages for an hour. I picked up about 10 books at 20 cents each, far cheaper than online.
One of these was The Body. It didn’t look much, and I didn’t read the blurb before starting. It was surprisingly a fascinating and well written insight into jealousy and aging. A persnickety, middle-age husband catches his young neighbour peeping at his wife in the shower. He then proceeds to invent an elaborate affair, creating circumstantial evidence, and reading into inconsequential happenings. The way he imagines theoretical conversations of confrontation is something I can ashamedly relate to. I often make up imaginary arguments about why tearing down beautiful old buildings, to be replaced by cement is responsible for the degradation of Brisbane as a society. A reader will find the husband ridiculous, extreme and humerous, but are secretly counting the times they have followed this train of thought. That’s what makes this book worth reading.