In my last day of sojourn in Los Angeles, I decided to pay a visit to LA Central Library. When I went to the library, I felt I was at home at last. I was impressed by the design of the building, and the stack of numerous rare books. The inside of library was artistically bedecked. For instance, an admirably painted ceiling in the first floor lobby: vividly colored rings, starbursts, checkerboards and names of Los Angeles novelists intertwined on the thirty-six foot by thirty-six foot ceiling. Also, each escalator landing had alluring lanterns. The shape of an upside-down human profile is repeated in the form of twenty-four radiating vanes on the upper portion of each lantern.
I fell into reminiscence of the one of my best periods in Vancouver. I love Vancouver Public Library more than any libraries in the world. The building is constructed like Roman Coliseum. I had always stayed there to bury myself into reading books for five or six hours a day. What a wonderful time I spent there!
When I came to the literature section, I went to the information desk to ask where I could find particular books. But alas, a librarian gave a brief glance at me and resumed his reading, without asking me if I needed some help. “He definitely misunderstood me. He must have thought that I am one of common Japanese tourists who do not have any literary taste,” I thought, “I should teach him to understand that he is dealing with a literary man.” Thereupon, I called into question with a straight face, “Excuse me, sir? I am looking for books.”
He did not stop reading the book and did not even glance at me. And he said annoyingly, “What do you want?”
“Hm, you’re reading Pushkin’s collected stories. What a tragedy he died at such young age. I wonder, was worthwhile for him to challenge his wife’s lover to a duel?”
His curiosity was piqued, and he asked me with an astonished expression, “Have you ever read any of his works?”
I nodded, “He is one of my idols. I love The Stationmaster the most. To tell the truth, I cried like a baby when I read it the first time.”
“Do you like Russian literature by chance?”
“I feel at home with it,” I replied nonchalantly.
“I’m so sorry. I thought you were like the modern Japanese who are interested only in technology and comic books, but not art.”
“It’s okay with me. I can understand it easily. Anyway, I need your help to find books.”
“Of course, sir. You’re obviously a serious man with literature at your heart. What can I do for you, sir?”
“Where can I find the works of Knut Hamsun and Henry Miller?”
When I invoked these names, his attitude toward me changed magically to the point of respect. He wrote the numbers down on the piece of papers where I could find them and gave them to me like a bat out of hell. And he let out, “You are totally confounding me. I am sorry, but it’s difficult for me to believe that a Japanese bird reads these giants. I might admit you read Henry Miller, but Knut Hamsun!”
When I scanned the bookshelves, I found two inspiring books: The History of Norwegian Literature and Nothing but the Marvelous: Wisdoms of Henry Miller. While I was reading them, I became thoroughly engrossed in them and utterly forgot the time. When I finished reading them, I understood the vital process of writing a book. Now I absolutely understood why I was sent to Los Angeles. I needed to forget the pin number so that I could fall in with them. “Everything has a reason,” I thought to myself gladly. And this realization made me jump for joy and made me feel as if I were in seventh heaven. I finally restored my equilibrium with the sacrosanct faith in myself. Now I am ready to go back to Mexico City to resume my work. At last, the soaring sense of happiness reached the peak.