Aly Thesaurus – small god of Heavy Reading

[image description: The room is lit with violet light, but by the fire, where Aly sits – in a comfy chair, feet up on a soft footstool – orange light spills out. To Aly’s side, a small table with curved legs supports a shallow bowl of nuts. and its tabletop, the remains of broken shells. The room is cozy and well-appointed, its mantle supports glassware and photos. More photos line the walls, and the tall bookcase behind Aly is inscribed with the words ‘ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS’ across its top. Text reads, “213, Aly Thesaurus, small god of Heavy Reading.”]

• • • • •

Some stories are sweet and easily swallowed, candy for the mind.  There is nothing wrong with candy, consumed in moderation; all things are fuel for the eager brain, for the lofty thoughts of dreamers.  We need our chocolate-coated happy endings, our spun-sugar fables, to give us the energy to work through an often dismal and dismaying world.  We need the light to get us through the times when we can’t quite lift the heavy.

But when that hunger has been properly satiated, there is Aly, waiting patiently as ever, a book dense as flourless chocolate cake in his hands, offering it over to you like the gift that it is.

Aly’s treasures do not always need to be long: a fantasy doorstop, heavy enough to serve as a murder weapon, can still be light reading if written in the correct voice, penned by the correct hand.  A novella, slim as a sigh, can be pressed lead, words tumbling over words, so thick with poetic imagery and complicated vocabulary that it takes a week to puzzle through.  He doesn’t care.  As long as the work is challenging—as long as it’s heavy—he’s at home.

Not everyone loves Aly.  Some people call him pretentious, claim he discriminates against slow readers, say he’s the reason they fell out of love with literature.  He sighs at the first, mourns the second, disagrees with the third.  If someone chooses the work they read according to their mind’s needs in the moment, nothing can steal their love of literature away.  He doesn’t discriminate against the slow readers; some of his dearest advocates are people who can take a full year to consume a single story.  If people feel he stole their love of reading, it wasn’t him, it was people who claimed to speak for him, who tried to insist that only “heavy” works were true literature, that stories sketched quickly in gossamer sheeting were not worth their time.

He just wants everyone to read.  He would prefer that everyone read things to challenge and inspire them, but if he can’t have that, he just wants you reading.

All the better if you need a dictionary close to hand.

• • • • •

Join Lee Moyer (Icon) and Seanan McGuire (Story) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for a guide to the many small deities who manage our modern world:

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