Monday, 9 May 2016
I Love a Library
Therese, soprano, never uses a library. 'I pride myself on always buying my books.'
Whereas I agree with Helene Hanff, who said that buying a book you haven't read is like buying a dress without trying it on. 'How do you know the dress will fit, Therese?'
'I always know what's going to fit me, book-wisely speaking. I tune into asking the universe what it needs me to read for the greater good, go into the bookshop and find that I'm drawn to a department, then a section of carpet, then the particular shelf and there will book the book, in a sort of outline of almost light picked out from the others around it.'
'But there are billions of books out there Therese, in umpteen shops, divided into squillions of bits of carpet and - '
She was giving me her look: a nurse at my hospital bed telling me that the prognosis was less than ideal. 'Yes, but with me it's narrowed down quite a bit to begin with. I only ever buy books about the development of the soul.'
She caught me smirking; the nurse's empathic smile snapped off. 'At least having purchased my books pristine I can be sure that nobody has sneezed, pissed or jizzed on them like they must at times in your precious library.'
She's right about being drawn to books. I'll be ever grateful to my book angel for Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Augustus Carp, esq, By Himself. But I could never agree with her insistence on pristine. And while I'm not saying you should write in library books, I did love finding this in the margin of a James Lee Burke novel: 'That's the second time and counting you've used the periscope in the swamp analogy, calm the purple prose the fuck down already.' Or this in a score of Tannhauser: 'Spiritual glow to the sound...verging on orgiastic tinge to the sound...forget any of the above here and take a bloody big breath like a stampeding horse.' And this in a an Agatha Christie: 'This is the link for you to donate to my crowdfunding campaign. Follow it. Donate. Don't make me have to tell you the all-clarifying clue you're missing in the row about the malachite table, bitches...'