Monday, January 31, 2011

Books and the afterlife

I know, I had promised I would tell you where the picture of the previous post came from, since it comes from a delightful book worth reading about, but, did you know that booksellers have a hard time keeping promises?
We tend to get carried away with the unfolding of unforseen events that ,like the wind on autumn leaves, stir us in all directions.
Therefore, before I keep my promise, i'll tell you another little fairy tale...
After all the books were packed and stored away, the bookseller, feeling restless in the idleness of not running the bookstore, was nonetheless hitting all her usual places for buying books, trying to restrain herself from spending too much money and forcing herself to be disciplined about what to buy in such delicate times. Of course she failed every time. It is practically an impossible mission, with the result that boxes of books are now taking over her apartment.
In the midst of all this unsuccesful self-restrain exercise, the bookseller receives a phone call from the lawer of Leslie Cameron's estate. The immediate reaction that the word lawer caused to the listener was a sudden thought: whose toes could have I possiby stepped on?
But no, Leslie passed away, and left in her will Lamplight books' contact info so that they would be the first buyers of her entire life time collection of books .
The bookseller was suddenly overcome by a cocktail of mixed feelings: sorry for the tragedy ( she in fact was another victim of breast cancer), the usual feeling of anxiety that house calls always ignite, the sense of excitement that private collections cause, to name a few.
So off she goes into the world of Leslie on First Ave. and Harbor Steps, where she meets Joni, one of the executors of the will.
Joni showes her where the books are, and it only takes her a quick glance to realize that she would spend lots of time and money going through that collection, so she took her jacket off and started digging.
After 20 minutes or so of picking, looking, pulling and piling, another feeling added itself to the pile: the strange feeling of being an interlooper or worse, an invader of a private world that was still warm with life, Leslie's bookshelves! And as all book readers know, home bookshelves don't only hold books, but a whole variety of objects that usually end up there,in that space of the shelf right in front of the books because there isn't really another place for them and because that little balcony is perfect for display: postcards, framed pictures, journals, candles,vases, jewellery boxes, souvenirs that friends brought us from their can add to the list just by looking at your own bookshelves, I bet ya!
Looking at those objects and moving them around so that she could get to the books, made her peep into Leslie's world and her taste, her fancies and her curiosities. Some objects as well as some of her books, represented future projects, others referred to projects already accomplished, others were totally compulsive buys, we all have those things laying around the house that make us think: what was I thinking!
So she turned to Joni who was organizing everything else that remained of Leslie's life, and asked her if she too had the same mixture of feelings.Joni replied that the mix was so strong she had to take pills to be able to fall asleep at night. The two immediately bonded over that and a friendship was born.
Leslie was a very interesting woman, fascinated with the world in all its forms of espression and curious like a child about it.
I enjoyed getting to know her from the after life, through her objects. She left me with an ecclectic collection of high quality books and a friend and the warm feeling that ,once again, books are magic.

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