Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s just the Void. Infinite and indifferent. We are so small. So very, very small.
I began to draw an invisible boundary between myself and other people. No matter who I was dealing with. I maintained a set distance, carefully monitoring the person’s attitude so that they wouldn’t get any closer. I didn’t easily swallow what other people told me.
It is no exaggeration to say that those books saved me: from a life of poverty, stress, depression and isolation. James Baldwin, one of the authors who most spoke to my spirit, once put it this way: ‘You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me the most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.’ That is the inimitable power of literature, to give context and meaning to the trials and triumphs of living.