A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje, recorded on tapes. The reader was Alan Cummings, and he was perfect; I loved listening to the story, time-jumping and lyrical, as it trickled out of my boombox in his quiet, precise voice. By the second-to-last cassette, however, that voice had acquired an unnatural sing-song quality. Loud, soft, loud, soft, in a pattern my father says is caused by demagnetization of just one side of the cassette. I struggled through that tape, rewinding to catch every word. The last tape, however, was hopeless.
Today, I went to the library to get the book on paper, and finish that last sixth of the work. What should I find, however? They have several audio copies of it! In looking for the CD copy, I found tapes. I paid my overdue fines, checked out my treasure, and rushed out to my car. I listened to almost half of the second-to-last tape over again, getting my bearings in the stream of words. I put in the last tape.
“She left him eventually, in the Una Palma Motel room in Bottega Springs. Left nothing of herself for him to hold onto.