I can’t describe the deep, deep pleasure I take from the fact that Eric Bana has gone from playing a time-travelling alien in Star Trek to a time-travelling librarian in The Time Traveller’s Wife. It’s those sort of neat parallels that provide a lot of joy in my life. Here’s a snippet of the book before the movie (which I hear is rubbish) gets released (here in SA):
“I bet I can guess your favourite bird.”
He shakes his head and smiles.
“What’ll you bet?”
He looks down at himself in his T-Rex shirt and shrugs. I know the feeling.
“How about this: if I guess you get to eat a cookie, and if I can’t guess you get to eat a cookie?”
He thinks it over and decides this would be a safe bet. I open the book to Flamingo. Henry laughs.
“Am I right?”
It’s easy to be omniscient when you’ve done it all before. “Okay, here’s your cookie. And I get one for being right. But we have to save them ‘til we’ve done looking at the book; we wouldn’t want to get crumbs all over the bluebirds, right?”
“Right!” He sets the Oreo on the arm of the chair and we begin again at the beginning and page slowly through the birds, so much more alive than the real thing in glass tubes down the hall.
“Here’s a Great Blue Heron. He’s really big, bigger than a Flamingo. Have you ever seen a hummingbird?”
“I saw some today!”
“Here in the museum?”
“Wait ‘til you see one outside – they’re like tiny helicopters, their wings go so fast you just see a blur…” Turning each page is like making a bed, an enormous expanse of paper slowly rises up and over. Henry stands attentively, waits each time for the new wonder, emits small noises of pleasure for each Sandhill Crane, American Coot, Great Auk, Pileated Woodpecker. When we come to the last plate, Snow Bunting, he leans down and touches the page, delicately stroking the engraving. I look at him, look at the book, remember, this book, this moment, the first book I loved, remember wanting to crawl into it and sleep.
“Should we go?”