I remember in childhood fancying that novels were magic portals to faraway lands and times.  It’s a hackneyed concept — I know — but, with vivid imagination, I would open a book and enter a twilight terrain filled with other people’s conflicts, other people’s stories, other people’s losses, other people’s loves.  Sometimes those characters were larger-than-life and, other times, the characters themselves were nothing special but there was something remarkable in what they experienced or in what they did.  It was a tame class of voyeurism to derive pleasure from peeping in on others’ lives, but boy did I love it.

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