30 November 2010

At Home

I was at the bookstore yesterday and picked up Bill Bryson's new book At Home, a room-by-room narrative of the origins of pretty much everything in the average home.  I've been really looking forward to this one, and although I'm only about 1/2 an inch into it so far, Bryson does not disappoint.
"Houses are amazingly complex repositories.  What I found, to my great surprise, is that whatever happens in the world-- whatever is discovered or created or bitterly fought over-- eventually ends up, in one way or another, in your house.  Wars, famines, the Industrial Revolution, the Enlightenment--they are all there in your sofas and chests of drawers, tucked into the folds of your curtains, in the downy softness of your pillows, in the paint on your walls and the water in your pipes.  So the history of household life isn't just a history of beds and sofas and kitchen stoves, as I had vaguely supposed it would be, but of scurvy and guano and the Eiffel Tower and bedbugs and body-snatching and just about everything else that has ever happened.  Houses aren't refuges from history.  They are where history ends up."
When I resurrected this blog, I said that one of the main things I was hoping to accomplish was to portray the "value in telling the story of the small, everyday moments and interactions that make up the bulk of our existence."  (It feels kind of nice to quote myself.)  It seems that Bryson has beat me to the punch.
Take a commonplace, clean it and polish it, light it so that it produces the same effect of youth and freshness and originality and spontaneity as it did originally, and you have done a poet's job.                                    -Jean Cocteau

No comments: