Of course, this is false, because that which drives us, that which fuels our passions -- be it poetry, physics, algebra, kayaking or whatever -- can also break our hearts. So, yes, carbon will probably never break my heart, but I'm sure there are chemists out there weeping into a glass of scotch because that bastard carbon was a bastard, again.
Books can break my heart. Words can break my heart. But they also build me up and set me flying and all manner of other awkward, wonderful things. The most wonderful (and awkward and sometimes rather stressful) thing about reading and writing is that I discover more of who I am, or was, or possibly even who I will be as I read and write.
You, my smart and loyal readers, have probably just said, "Duh," here. But it's amazing how quickly we forget the way words worm into us and change us and reveal us. I was lucky to attend a workshop on conducting readers' advisory interviews, given by ultra ninja librarian Nancy Pearl. Ms. Pearl noted that there is no way we librarians and apprentice librarians can read everything and know everything, but we can know three basic types of readers -- people who read for character, for plot and for language. Most people are mixtures of the three, but one trait will tend to dominate. I'm probably a 60% character, 22% language and 18% plot reader. That is, if the plot isn't quite grabbing me but the character is compelling, I will likely finish the book. But if the characters are duds, even though the plot is a rip-snorter, I will not finish the book, or will not read another book by that author (Chris Bohjalian, I'm looking at you).
Well, the fact is, I don't like mysteries. I like Flavia (and it's really in my best interest to like an 11 year old with a penchant for poisons). I like Sherlock and Watson. I pretty much never figure out the who in the whodunit before the detective. Elementary all you want, I'm still gonna need that explained to me. Really, the only thing my obsessive consumption of crime drama DVDs has done is allow me to get a lot of crafting done in something other than silence. Oh, and occasionally, I'll run through my alibi, in case I should ever need one. And I also keep a sharp eye out for bodies when I walk along the Greenbelt. But I'm sure loads of people do that.
What keeps me coming back to Buckshaw, besides checking up on Flavia and her family, are sentences like this: Tendrils of raw fog floated up from the ice like agonized spirits departing their bodies (3).
Or how about this: The world outside my bedroom windows was the sickly shade of an underdeveloped snapshot: a bruised black and white, under which lay an ever so slightly menacing tinge of purple, as if the sky were muttering "Just you wait!" (71).
I mean, damn, Bradley! Your murders are, to my refined palate, not particularly inventive, although that's actually a point in your favor as far as I'm concerned, because when murders get "inventive" they tend towards gruesome, and I can't stomach that. And also, I never really figure them out. But your characters and your prose are gorgeous.