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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Books, 'Books,' and Non-Books

That heading seems to include about everything under the sun, doesn’t it? I read Anna Quindlen’s yesterday afternoon (the one with the title that complicates punctuation of any sentence one drops aforesaid title into) and browsed again, appreciatively, in EIGHT DOGS NAMED JACK, Joe Borri’s short story collection just out this summer, reflecting again how fortunate I am to have work that I love. Then I started another new order list, sold a few books, moved others around, and finally—because it was Monday, and the UPS delivery was the big event of the day—went home early to begin reading a manuscript.

There’s more to having a bookstore than reading books, however, and late evening found me catching up on bookkeeping, a job that brought on a very different set of reflections, such as, “Why do they call accounts ‘books,’ anyway? What a libel on the pleasures of men and women!” I did think of the ancient Egyptians, though, and their careful record-keeping, and that reminded me once again of how easily we remember the alphabet, thanks to the little song, but how difficult it is to put the multiplication tables to music, hence the necessity of writing numbers down. ‘Books’ before literature, in other words. (Sigh!)

My use of the category ‘non-books’ means different things on different occasions. Since Sunday breakfast with Chicago ‘outsider art’ collector Susann, I keep thinking of the artist she introduced us to, Stella Waitzkin, and Waitzkin's shelves of what appear to be books but are actually sculpted polymer resin pieces, innocent of words. ”Words are lies,” the artist said. Her non-book constructions were lovely on the shelf, but what, I ask myself, did she do for stories?

The books in the photograph above are real and were not harmed in the making of the image.

Wild and bitterly cold gusts of snow-bearing wind are blowing untethered Christmas trees down the streets of Northport. Don't you wish you were here?