Tales from a Constant Reader, or: Books, Memories, and Changed Circumstances

I took this picture at the “small pool” near what was once my home in East Wind Lake Village. (Photo by the author)

Well, it’s late morning here on this Wednesday, September 9, 2020, and in my corner of Florida, it looks like it’s going to be another hot and stormy late summer day. Right now, it’s 83˚F (28˚C) under partly sunny skies, although the feels-like temperature is 94˚F (34˚C). It’s a quiet – if perhaps a bit – grey-tinted day so far, but the weather forecast for today calls for thunderstorms in the afternoon.

Today is a good day for reading, so that is how I have spent most of my Wednesday morning. The book I am focusing on at the moment is Ian W. Toll’s Twilight of the Gods: The War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945, which is the final volume in Toll’s Pacific War Trilogy. I received my copy on September 3, and over the past few days I have read the first five chapters. So far, Toll has focused on the events that led to the Battle of Leyte Gulf (a series of separate engagements around the Philippine Islands that historians grouped together for convenience’s sake), as well as the American submarine war against Japan’s merchant fleet and the use of B-29 heavy bombers against the Japanese home islands.

I started reading Toll’s Pacific War Trilogy when I bought the first two volumes, 2011’s Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific 1941-1942 and 2015’s The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942-1944 on December 24, 2015. I bought the books as a “Christmas present to myself” a few months after my mother’s death. I still remember going to the pool closest to my erstwhile home, book in hand, and laying on a deck chair in the cool South Florida “winter” days while reading the first two-thirds of the trilogy.

At the time, Twilight of the Gods was scheduled for a 2018 publication, and I fully expected to be still living in what was then still my late mom’s house. I owned it de facto, but I had not started the probate process (I had no idea how to), so it wasn’t my house de jure, which Is what counts in the eyes of the law. Still, I planned to abide by my mom’s wishes and slowly but surely make the house my own, not only legally but by remodeling to reflect my distinct identity and decorative tastes.

Well, the book did not come out in 2018, and even though I won the legal fight to own the townhouse in Fontainebleau Park, I was not able to renovate or even stay put there. I ended up selling my house for far less than its assessed value and moving elsewhere.

As a result, sometimes I have weird flashes of my experiences reading Pacific Crucible and The Conquering Tide in late 2015 and early 2016; I have vivid flashbacks of taking the books from my TBR pile on the couch in what was then my living room and going to the “small pool” to read them out in the fresh air and sunshine….and then contrast those experiences to the new reality of living, well, elsewhere.

Oddly enough, because Pacific Crucible and The Conquering Tide are hardcovers, they have been out of their moving boxes and in a designated space in my Ikea Billy bookshelves since 2016. And yet, I have not re-read them in all the time I have been here.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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