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Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Books, the bodies of reading, were fascinating for me early in life, and I’m fortunate enough to have had parents who, after I left for college, saved many that I had as a kid. The oversized Dinosaur picture book, the scholastic book service biographies I ordered in school, the heroic war stories, the Vonnegut novels. The whole collection fit neatly on shelves built in over my bed.

The book shelves of my first apartments were also easily ordered. After a decade and a half in San Francisco, I moved, following a job across the bay that kept me busy for months. But one Saturday morning I woke with the usual to-do-list, which was interrupted by the realization I’d never properly sorted my books. Many simply came out of the boxes, which I’d filled by size and shape, not subject.

It was a nice weekend—my recollection is it was blustery outside, but inside I stacked piles of books, moving between bookcases in my living room, kitchen, and bedroom. American fiction, travel guides, a stack for Anne Tyler, movie references, et cetera.

I respect the decimal system of Dewey, but my categories are more organic. A History of Eating in America next to a Chinese cookbook; the collected Grantas shared space next to Graham Greene because they fit well.

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I encountered an old friend recently. Our re-acquaintance came about through this blog. Ms. Maria del Mar found my post on Salinger’s  Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters (Roof Beam, to us) which I had ended with a note on the odd wedding gift at the end of the story, wondering why anyone might send cigar ash.  She commented that it is explained in the next novella of that collection, Seymour — an Introduction.

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It’s time. I’ve saved for years. I bought five extra years’ service with the state, bolstering my pension. I don’t have to work in the court system any more. The judicial process is painstaking, and as a citizen I appreciate the serious efforts of the courts to apply the law, to resolve conflicts, to get things right — at the same time, I don’t have to take those pains myself any more.

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 On my walk in to work in the mornings, I sometimes pass a Goodyear tire store at Turk and Larkin streets, Kahn & Keville, which maintains a large signboard out front, often with amusing or thought-provoking messages.  Up through the election it had something from Voltaire, on how uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one.

Before that, it had a note on the passing of Gore Vidal which I found poignant.

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Emma

 Have you ever felt like you were headed down the road in one direction only to see a number of signs luring you a different way?

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Superheroes were different when I was a kid. They mostly lived in comic books. Superman later became a TV show, but the special effects were so hokey you could practically see the strings propeling him in flight around the stage. We didn’t mind. We were kids. It was understood that childhood imagination, pretending, was part of the deal.

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