If you’ve found this letter in the library copy of The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton then you will be pleased to know that I already know a few things about you! Ready?
1. Chances are that we’ve had class together. After all , it is a small school! I hope that if you figure out who I am that you will keep my book jacket letters a secret.
2.You read literature. For you, it is probably a more rigid term but I use the term loosely; my definition of literature has broadened so much over the last few years. Still, most agree that literature wins the Man Booker Prize, whereas light reading rarely does. So, if you are reading this, you are reading literature.
2. You don’t back away from a challenge. That will be very clear to anyone who has ever seen the hardcover of The Luminaries. At 830 pages, it weighs in at around 5 pounds. That is a serious reading commitment. If you get tired of reading you can work your triceps. Just carrying it around in that already-bursting backpack will put a permanent dent in your shoulder. And yes, that’s another observation: if you are reading this book then you must have an already-bursting backpack.
3. This should probably follow from Number 1. You are probably a book snob. Nothing wrong with that. I am too. But open your eyes to other genres. Some of the most surprising treasures lurk beyond the classics.
4. You might not make it to the bookmark (I inserted it at page 360 and the end of Part 1). Try to make it to the bookmark. If you make it to the bookmark you’ve made it through the hardest part of this journey. The rest of the book is an easy and amazing reading. On my first attempt I only made it in 100 pages. On my second attempt I made it through but the first book was painful. I couldn’t keep any of the male characters straight as they told their stories. Each one became the same man, the same voice – save for Te Rau and Gascoigne. I kept having to double-back and confirm who was speaking. I imagined it was like asking 13 different murder witnesses to explain their view of the events. But the riches that come after Part 1? Definitely worth the read. So, stick it out. Becuase if you are the reader I think you are, you will love it.