Last month I caught what can only be titled The Stomach Virus from the Damnable Pit of Hades. Yes, it earned the superfluous moniker. But don’t worry—this isn’t a post about my gastrointestinal woes. I’ll spare you those details. I mention it because it was the first time I’d ever experienced synesthesia of the body and more significantly, of books.
I’d read about this phenomenon in my Writer Unboxed sister Therese Walsh’s novel The Moon Sisters. So I felt I had known it in my imagination, through her character Olivia, who lives with the neurological muddling. To help you understand, in case you have yet to pick up Therese’s book (which I highly recommend you do at once, especially if you are a WU aficionado!), here is what I experienced physically:
Toothpaste tasted and felt like baking soda on my tongue; mouthwash, like too-sweet honey. Black tea brewing clear across the room smelled like burnt hair. All soda pop smacked of cough syrup and bubbled down like cat nails in my throat. Cubes of cheese were salty sea sponges. A whirling fan was like being slapped in the chin with each blade. The sound and feel of closing a desk drawer, the cupboard, or a door ran like a tuning fork through my body in bursts of orange that made me have to lie down. The ping of my Twitter Tweetdeck induced nausea. Okay… so that last one may affect others similarly.
Point being, it was the strangest thing I’d ever encountered. Nothing was right. The world was topsy-turvy and all I wanted was everything to go back to being what my memory-senses said they should. For the familiar to be the familiar again.
All of this I could blame on illness and medications. They were messing with my senses, I consoled myself. As soon as I was over this thing, I’d get my regular appetite, hearing, smells, sight and feeling back. But what scared me most was that my imagination seemed to have been impacted too.
Like most writers, I’m a reader, first and foremost. So when diseased by the Netherworld, I reach for a comforting book and panicked. The novels I’d purchased mere weeks before in giddy excitement, I couldn’t focus on past the first sentences. I had one bewildered, tearful moment where I lined my TBR pile up on my sickbed, cover to cover, picking up one and trying to get “into” the story dream. Failing. Then picking up another and doing the same. It was miserable—and I presumed I was a very, very sick woman. Obviously.
So I decided to try something outside my normal, literally and literary. I went online and ordered three books that were not my typical reading fodder but were written by good friends in whom I trust for prose prowess and storytelling. A cinematic summer thriller. An apocalyptic dystopian novel. A sci-fi romance adventure. [Read more…]