Then again, sometimes my imagination takes me to characters I enjoy meeting. Take for instance A King’s Ransom by James Grippando. I open the book and am immediately hit with the smell of stale cigarettes. I picture a man in his mid-fifties, thinning dark hair and a gold crown on his right top molar. He reads A King’s Ransom in between “My Name is Earl” and “ER,” laid back on an old brown recliner. He skims unabashedly minutes before the start of the show, cigarette poised between his index and middle finger. The smoke from his Marlboro wafts onto the pages as he scans along.
Or the woman that jumps out at me when I opened Alexander Dumas’s The Last Cavalier. A notably big, hardcover book, when I open it up sand trickles out and I get a whiff of sunscreen. Who’s taking a 750 page hardcover tome to the beach? Well, she didn’t want to be seen with the likes of Charlaine Harris. So, out of her blue and white beach bag sprinkled with pictures of thin girls in bikinis comes The Last Cavalier. She spends time tying her mousy hair up in a black band, looking up at the sun and enjoying the Atlantic waves pulse onto the shore. Maybe she always wanted to read it and figured her vacation was the best time to try; maybe the picture of Napoleon on the cover spoke to her about foreign lands and interesting possibilities. This one’s hard to figure out, but I do see her squinting into the book, the sun’s rays making it difficult to concentrate. She sets the book on the sand to rub a smear of sunscreen into her arm that she missed, and sandy granules like tiny beads find themselves misplaced in the jacket of the book.
Who knows? The scents aren’t enough to reveal lives, but they certainly evoke the imagination.