Any fellow reader who has their own small library and then has had to box up that library because of a move, and then in one’s new surroundings, because of a shortage of bookshelves, is forced to decide which books will remain in boxes and which will find their way to new shelves in a place with considerably less shelf space than previously available, then such a reader will not be surprised that after two years in my new residence, I am again reshuffling books.
I blame Pinocchio, that fleet-footed Italian puppet. On my unmade bed is a copy of John Boyne’s Noah Bareleywater Has Run Away. In today’s parlance, it’s a Pinocchio knockoff with a delightful 21st century tone, if not place. I finished reading it last night, but it was too late to go looking for a copy of Collodi’s book to check out the books side-by-side. Luckily, after 10+ years as a bookseller, I’ve developed a handy photographic memory, so that when I woke this morning there was no question in my mind that I owned a copy of Collodi’s Pinocchio. I could see the paperback with its great b&w woodcut illustration of a forest and a puppet boy, in red, running across the cover. After going through all the shelves where I might have placed it, but apparently did not, I knew it had to be in one of the forty banker’s boxes filled with the unshelved and stacked three to four high in various closets. I could visualize the book. Visualizing the box was something else.
I prayed to the God of misplaced books. She and I are on the same spiritual page and thus I hit pay dirt with the second box. So this morning I’m moving books around again by boxing up some shelved religion and replacing them with fiction and essay, a sort of swap that under the circumstances seems fitting.
Also found in the shuffling of books, was a slim volume, Too Loud A Solitude, by a Czech writer, Bohumil Hrabal. I can’t remember when I bought it, but after reading the opening sentence I knew it was one of those buy now, read later books. It’s breathtaking in it’s English translation and I can’t imagine what it would be like if I were Czech. I’ll have to think about that. But not before a second cup of coffee.
It really is my intent to map out the differences between Noah Barleywater and Pinocchio. It would make an interesting review and a chance to write about reading aloud, but I think it’ll have to wait. The Hrabal book is small enough that I’ve convinced myself I can finish it before noon. Maybe. Then there’s the book about the German women who protested the removal of their Jewish husbands rounded up in a last-ditch Nazi effort to rid Berlin of all Jews (it was late 1943 and things weren’t going well for Hitler). I really wanted to get some of Resistance of the Heart read before I received my review copy of Fritz Tubach’s new book, German Voices.
Coffee in hand, then one last-minute with the laptop. My girl child has just emailed asking if I’ve had a chance to look over the Madeleine Robins book she gave me. Plus One Press is coming out with Robins’ latest and there’s an editorial meeting coming up, and I promised I’d kick in with my thoughts before they meet. Hey, this is Saturday! I’m retired! I’m also way behind schedule and it’s beginning to feel like every other day of the week. So okay, logged off, sitting down with Madeleine Robins’ Point of Honor, and loving it. Did I say retired?