Monday, June 11, 2012

Home Libraries

The ostrich's head is finally out of the hole.
I will face my responsibilities as the publisher of this blog and make a public apology for my lack of commitment.
(wouldn't you be glad to hear this from the wall street gang?)
Anyhow, as in all apologies, the excuses follow:
(but it was for the Greater economic Good)
I was busy re-arranging my Home Library, yes capital H and capital L, because Home Libraries are an institution and being a book seller you can imagine the amount of homework.
My first thought was: how will I arrange it? like the bookshop? A through Z and by category? or will I go wild and re-invent the laws of classification: by color, by order of purchase, by the mood I was in when I bought the book ( Twain goes on the happy shelf, Sartre goes on the sad one) by my intentions towards the book( Henry James on the "will never read again" shelf next to my friend Ernest, Faulkner and Proust  keeping each other good company in the "I will get to you, I promise" shelf, Descartes and Kierkegaard on the "what was I thinking" shelf and so on and so forth ).
The method of classification will determine the nature of the Library, and the possibilities are infinite:
your library can be your map, your diary, your painting, your consciousness, your wall of shame, your passport, your portfolio or resume, your sculpture, your treasure chest, your dowry, your retirement plan, your stove burning material, your building blocks, your memory....and all you have to sacrifice for it, is having handy help at hand reach when you move, because your friends know and they are all busy that week-end.
I acquired a book for my library today:
Homer's Odyssey, translated by Allen Mandelbaum, with twelve engravings by Marialuisa de Romans, California Press. A book about one of the greatest journeys of literature narrated by one of the most wonderful characters ever created. Everyone should have a copy of it in their Home Library. It will go on the shelf of the Giants.
Now I have it too, and, like every book that sits on my shelves, there is a story behind it:
I hunt the book with my bow and arrow ( remember?), I opened it and found the business card of a fellow bookseller, Peter Miller, I showed it to him stating the obvious: look Peter, it's the cycle of life,they bought it new from you, gave it as a gift that was discarded and now I found it and went on asking how could people part with such treasure and pointing out the beautiful dedication:
June 1991
dear Jason,
all of the rules,
they are all here
Peter says with a hint of disappointment in his tone: hey, this was a present from me to a twenty one year old friend of the family, exactly 21 years ago....
Sometimes that is how it goes....we dismantle our Home Libraries....
So I handed the book to him asking him to make the gesture of giving it to me as a gift with the promise of never getting rid of it and so he did adding a new dedication below the 21 year old one:
almost a true journey, as this
book of order finds its
proper home. I could not
be more thrilled.
Ask me if I got rid of it in 21 years,
the answer will be no.

1 comment:

  1. Bisogna sfatarla questa leggenda, mai nessuno ha visto uno struzzo emergere dal buco nella sabbia. Se mai, nel caso avverta una minaccia, allunga il collo per terra, ma per il resto è un animale che si adatta alle condizioni più difficili e digerisce tutto.
    Non a caso negli anni trenta divenne il simbolo della Einaudi, accompagnato dal motto “ Spiritus durissima coquit “ ( lo spirito digerisce le cose più dure ) che riaffermava la supremazia della cultura sull’inciviltà della dittatura fascista.
    Quanto detto a salvare l’onore degli struzzi, ti confiderò che il post mi è molto piaciuto, sai perché?
    Sembra invitarci a vestire i panni di Ulisse, issare le vele e varcare le colonne d’Ercole per un viaggio alla scoperta delle home libraries.
    Non esclusa la propria, che nel corso degli anni può aver mutato pelle e pensiero, senza che ne avessimo compiuta percezione.
    E pensare che l’abbiamo davanti ogni giorno, chi siamo, dove andiamo, e come stiamo cambiando.
    Non trovi che sarebbe bello, una volta completato lo scaffale dei Giganti, se il Peter delle home libraries incidesse la sua dedica sul legno dello stipite?
    All of the rules, they are all here.

    Affettuosi saluti, gentile e curiosa libraia di Pike Place Market, instancabile cacciatrice di sogni.