The good thing about novels

Finished a novel last night, Swimming in the Volcano, by Outside correspondent Bob Shacochis. He gave it to me when I visited him at his northern NM off-the-grid writing cabin. I read fiction rarely, about one in every five or six books I pick up. It takes me a lot longer to read novels--those big purple passages, mind-bending flashbacks, and entourage of characters to keep track of. My mind is better wired for historical non-fiction, tying old facts onto new ones to create a stronger knot of events. But history books never supply the same satisfaction as a novel when the final page turns over--a World War II book has a known ending, but a novel can curve into something so surprising that it can take a day to absorb even after the last words are read. That's what it was like with Swimming in the Volcano, a part of me is still marooned on the fictional Caribbean island of St. Catherine, wondering what will happen next.