November 4th, 2007

Book Breakdown

The list in the previous post caused no end of drama around here, you may be surprised to learn. In writing it over the course of a few days, I tried to find a number of the physical books that the stories were in, either to double-check the title or just for the joy of rereading them. And I couldn’t find several, which made me slightly crazy. This has happened to me before, and I think been posted about. In fact, it happens to me fairly often and the reason is *my books were in no order!* None. When I acquired a new book, I stuck it where it fit, and if I took something down, I rarely even put it back in the same spot. Thus, when I wanted something I could rarely find it immediately, or sometimes at all. It’s a terrible plan. What have I been thinking?

When I was a child, I organized my books by height, tall picture books to tiny mass market paperbacks. Around age 10, I realized this was stupid, and somehow threw the baby out with the bathwater, deciding all systems of book organization are stupid!! I’ve worked in both bookstores and libraries, I *know* this isn’t true in institutions, but somehow for a personal collection, it seemed pretentious to have a system.

Until this weekend, when I realized I was being an idiot, and took every book off the shelves, covered myself in dust and then lemon polish, separated out the reference books and periodicals and books I actually hate, and alphabetized the rest. It took a long time, and I inhaled a lot of polish, and listened to a recording of Beckett while I did it, so it made me a bit insane (especially since I never did find one of the books I was looking for!! I think I know who has it,though) Possibly such a state of mind is over fertile for revelation, but I did have several in the process, which I will now share with you in my lemon-hangover state:

1) I am still fresh enough from school that you could look at my shelves and get a false impression of my tastes. Not that I don’t like Turgenev, but he’s a bit over represented, considering.
2) Neither Alice Munro nor Diane Schlomperlin are on the list in the previous post, which is clearly a horrendous oversight.
3) I own a huge amount of Beckett, and that recording is fricking creepy, and that guy was a genius, but I’m really glad I don’t know him.
4) Also creepy: I came across the work of a poet I once knew, never particularly famous, and not now either, at least according to Google. Anyway, this was an acquaintance who I discovered was involved with another acquaintance whose personality didn’t much match, and that relationship mystified me for a long time. Since I barely knew either of them, I couldn’t ask about how they operated (and the question I really wanted to ask, “How do you stand each other?” I probably couldn’t have asked of anyone). So I wrote a little story about them to explain it to myself. It was a pretty good story, actually, and over the years I’ve built on it, written perhaps half a dozen stories about those characters and gradually forgotten they were based on anyone at all. Going back to those poems now, I realize that there was once a real person here, but the person I’ve imagined could never have written those poems, and is now wholly my own creation, even though when I picture the physical body of the character, it’s that real poet in my mind’s eye. Creepy or what?

You know what I’m going to do now? *Go outside*. I really think that will help!

I’ve been double-crossed now / for the very last time

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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