I first was loaned a copy of “Dreams Underfoot,” by Charles de Lint, by a girlfriend of brief duration quite a few years ago. She offered it to me, saying that from what sense she could make from both the book and from me, she thought it would be something for me. She was quite right: I devoured every page of that book; then read it again. What was originally loaned to me became a gift: she didn’t care much for the book, anyway, and thought it was better off with me than collecting dust on her shelf. I read the book a couple more times, before someone asked if I might send the book her way. I never got the book back from her, and then the book sort of faded out of my mind. I always remembered the book quite fondly; but never really thought to buy it again until last year. This time, I bought it as a gift for someone else, who turned out not being able to make any sense of it. Somewhat dismayed, I eventually borrowed the book and started reading it.
When I first read that book, so many years ago, it was a moment I don’t think I’ve ever had with any other book … it was almost like Harry Potter choosing his first wand, that kind of moment (just less sudden). Also like that moment, I had little understanding at the time for exactly why I treasured that book – I just knew I was reading something that would become very important to me down the road. Despite my not having technically owned a copy since Bill Clinton was still an innocent man, it has been my favorite book. Now, having finished reading the book for the first time in so long, I can more fully appreciate why that book is so important to me: it presents a theme that is (and has been) vital to me, that of magic in the mundane. I have, for nearly as long as I can remember, seen the world much in the way one of the book’s recurring characters, Jilly, sees it. The book, the stories contained within it, everything just resonates with me. It might be a telling fact, that I have never bothered to pick up anything else from de Lint: this one book from him is simply good enough, and complete enough within its own right, that I’ve never felt the ‘I-need-more‘ urge that I feel with other authors.
I once heard that, when one has read the last page, one closes the book. My response: only if one has no time and a not-so-interesting (or inspiring) book. Upon reading the last page of “Dreams Underfoot” today, I promptly relocated my bookmark to the first page of the book, and started reading the book again from the beginning.