Like the Word on the Tip of Your Tongue

Stephen Sparks, “An Imagined Book,” Invisible Stories 31 March 2013

An imagined book cannot be possessed. Any attempt to bring it into mental focus, to remember or conjure it up — which is it? have you held it or has it held you? — leaves you bereft, as if, like the word on the tip of your tongue, the book rests in your hand, nearly. It is a vague shape around which it is impossible to stake words.

When those readers fortunate enough to feel this sense of loss speak of the book, they do so in whispers, not with secrecy, although perhaps a little, but out of reverence and fear that doing so will damn them to forgetfulness. In speaking of the book they diminish it, syllable by syllable, without ever grasping it, a handful of water.