Half-Baked Theories: Literary Synesthesia?

I was talking with Chestnut the other day about what she wanted to read. "Why not this book?" and she said, "Yes, but it's a little too pink," and I thought, "YES."

And here's the thing: she doesn't mean "girly in a stereotypical way," she meant—or at least I think she meant—too round and monotone and without acidity.

I think, without quite meaning to, about all books this way. It's on some sort of not-quite-conscious level below, "Well, yes, I like that author and really loved his other books." A three-dimensional color wheel, and a shape-sorting thing.

Like so: DeLillo is (for me) gray, which has something to do with its (to me) coldness. It is also thin, and I don't mean thin in plot, but…thin as in somewhat smooth and metallic and…thin? Help, my language is unable to keep up with my semi-synesthetic-but-possibly-just-covering-for-not-quite-adequate-resources-for-describing-or-reacting-to-books.

Austen is pale, a cream color, and pointy. (Also—yes—awesome.)

Faulkner is a muddy brown and textured.

I have access to this weird sense library. It's not usually the one I pay attention to, but it is always there. All books get classified this way, while on my not-as-crazy conscious level I am saying much more reasonable things about them.

I know I ask this too much, but: am I the only one with this weird extra thing? And wouldn't it be awesome if it had some use?

6 thoughts on “Half-Baked Theories: Literary Synesthesia?

  1. I’m with you on all of those. And I’d add that Dostoevsky is a burnt red — Virginia Woolf a pale, silvery gray, Toni Morrison an over-the-top, nearly garish blue. I could go on forever with this.


  2. My own problem is food metephors going too far–“this book is like a beautifully crafted omelet.” “Reading this was like devouring a whole package of double chocolate milanos.” That sort of thing….


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