Litzillaby Darren Lee

For some time now I have been incubating a monster in a quiet corner of my house.

It started off as an innocent enterprise, the result of over-eagerness during free time spent nonchalantly wandering around bookshops; I caved in at the distraction of the many colourful spines compressed on the shelves, the tables of promotions and carefully curated selections from the bibliophile bucket list. I bought the books and took them home intending to wallow in the wisdom of their pages, but instead there were other things to which I diverted my attention. And so, these stories that I had hoped to enjoy sat ignored in the corner, patiently waiting for the day in which they would feel my fingers tickling their pages and see my eyes dart back and forth across their text.

This was never intended to be a permanent arrangement, but over the years this nameless corner grew until it became time for it to be christened as “the To Read pile”. But that name seems no longer appropriate; something has began too fester in the pile, a dark malevolence spreading its tendrils throughout the room. The pile has propagated and mushroomed into a pulsating monster, a beast born from my addiction to books, a foaming monster I have ignored to far too long. The To Read Pile is dead, long live LITZILLA!

Litzilla is a creature made of many parts: Its legs are sturdy, and made of the thickest tomes from the Three-For-The-Price-Of-Two era. It clomps around supported by these pages, novels that were intended to be read, but have been mostly ignored since they were the unloved stepchildren of the originally purchased trio.

Litzilla’s girthy waistline is comprised of charity shop finds; as if the frivolous purchase of a book was justified by its philanthropic intent. This part of Litzilla is mostly made up of seventies Penguins, and their distinctive spines make it look like the abominable creature is sporting a distinctive orange jockstrap.

Litzilla’s torso is made up of those important books that I’ve genuinely always meant to read, but have found physically inaccessible; removing one from the pile will cause the entire structure to teeter over, burying me under a Jenga tower of unread text.

Litzilla’s head is a bulky, Easter Island type-affair made from hardbacks grabbed in the January sales. At first I was eager to leaf through these, but now they’re bulky and cumbersome in comparison to their paperback compatriots.

The crowing of the beast is a single cyclopic eye made from Richard Flanagan’s Booker winner, purchased automatically following the award. It is the capstone holding Litzilla together, staring at me with its beady gaze. Even though it’s only been there for a few weeks, it stares at me, hurt with neglect and demanding to be read next..

Efforts to constrain Litzilla have met with failure; I’ve tried pruning its limbs by slowly reading those books that I have so cruelly ignored. Litzilla has also been cropped, cuttings have been made and sent to the second-hand shop, where they will no doubt take root in someone else’s library. In one drastic move to arrest the growth of this bibliogical behemoth I banned myself from adding to it’s weight for several months, thereafter the siren call of literary shopping lured me back in. I have tried to cage Litzilla on a sturdy shelf, but now its bars are buckling and the monster is breaking free to leave its deposits around the house; all of them guilty piles admonishing my shortcomings as a reader.

The monster has become sentient. I fear its retribution. One day it will swallow me whole and trudge slowly from my house, looking for similar To Read Piles with which to merge. This giant book monster will run rampant, devouring streets, neighbourhoods and cities. No one will be safe! Run for your lives Litzilla has been awakened!

And yet still, I realise that I’ve not bought the new Ian McEwan yet, and well, it is on special offer at the moment. I would be foolish not to…

You can read, The Assembled Self, by Darren Lee in the upcoming publication from Transportation Press, Islands and Cities, for updates on the release subscribe to our newsletter.