Monday, May 24, 2010
My dismal work ethic is exceeded only by my dreadful work habits. That’s why it’s safer to try to get something done away from home, otherwise I tend to fall in with a bad crowd; one that smokes and drinks and says things like, ”underlying patterns of symmetry,” and argues the cognitive-scientific principles of poetry. (As to the latter, after the last apple-tini, I think I was “for.”)
Not that the library doesn’t have distractions of its own, what with the aisles and aisles of stuff I like almost better than real life. The library bouncer or whatever has warned me not to leave my laptop on the table, unattended. Which is kind of flattering actually, implying someone might actually want to steal Nellie Belle. I think I’ve mentioned before that, at the computer dance, Nellie’s the fat girl sitting in the corner alone with her cookies and punch. She weighs as much as a Buick, and to kidnap her would require premeditation and at least one accomplice.
So I gave Nellie a cupcake and left to stalk the aisles. For some books, the library is the last stop before falling off the edge of the world. And face it, if an old book is not the darling of the academic community, what kind of life support can it hope for. So today I took a break to identify likely candidates for the next library rummage sale.
1. The Best Short Stories of 1935.
Just like Nellie Belle, this old man was way off in a corner by himself, with no best stories of any other year to keep him company. Maybe because of the grease stains on his cover and a bad case of old book BO. Last time anyone offered to put him up for the night was 1989.
2. Fireside Book of Dog Stories, Copyright 1943
It’s been so long since anyone looked at this puppy, there isn’t even a due date receipt or a card. But good lord, the authors: EB White, DH Lawrence, Kipling, Stevenson, Thurber. I’ve decided on an intervention, and have checked it out.
“Of all the dogs whom I have served, I’ve never known one who understood so much of what I say or held it in such deep contempt.” EB White
All right, so I thought I had a shoe-in for the third slot with Elswyth Thane’s “Tryst,” copyright 1939. But no, it was taken out in 2005. Flipping to the first page, Elswyth shows promise: “Sabrina had never picked a lock in her life, but it was done every day in books.” I won’t follow Sabrina’s exploits, but it looks like once every five years, someone does.
3. Six Days in Marpore, by Scott Paul. Or maybe Paul Scott. Copyright 1953
Like Short Stories of 1935, this book hasn’t had a date or seen solid food in 25 years. First line:
“The rains had not yet reached Marpore, and the dry heat was almost more than MacKendrick could bear. He lay on his back staring up at the high rafters of the bedroom and thought of Calcutta…”
Just a guess on my part, but I’ll bet this MacKendrick has a list of complaints 350 pages long.