Monday, March 16, 2009

Cue Triumph...
"Previous owner's name inside front cover. Book is soiled" is a caveat of little importance when I find a truly good deal on a book. But an incident a few weeks ago has left me a little more interested as to what constitutes 'soiled.'

Bridget and Martha picked me up from work and before the car was pointed in the direction home they asked if I had heard from Fran. Asking in that peculiar tone that screams extreme interest in some sort of fiasco to be revealed. When I said I hadn't talked to Fran they felt compelled to prepare me. Cody (one of the dogs) had another seizure. In my bedroom. Cody was now OK. And my room was OK. Except for the matter of a book that caught a certain amount of fecal material.

This was one of those moments when I realize the dreadful extent of my attachment to books. I began naming any books I could think of that might have been 'at risk.' And it was an awesome list - having received some new school materials and, just the night before, been to HalfPrice Books to spend some of my (tax refund!) allotment for educational extras. What book? Louvre Up Close? Mundelein Psalter? The Smithsonian Timelines of the Ancient World? My breviary? I could not begin to tabulate all the books that would have been stacked next to my bed, on low surfaces or any shelves less than three feet off the ground.

Trying for detachment, I did not rush upstairs right away. Fran came down soon; carrying a thin book pinched between her thumb and forefinger. Held at a distance. As though contaminated. Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott. That was an impulse purchase from the rummage shop. As much as I admire her way with words (thoughts that would “make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish,") I am rankled enough by her hip heterodoxy that I wouldn't go out of my way to buy one of her books. But I will bring one home if fate tosses it in my path. And $2 for a signed first edition is not such a bad deal. AbeBooks starts this at $17.50.

Despite my lurid imaginings, the book is (physically) redeemable. The assault was not extreme and vigorous scrubbing with various antibacterial wipes and sprays of Lysol have rendered it...touchable. But it is in a paper bag; the known history having given the book a taint. A taint bearing out all the worst imaginings of those I know who do not like to handle used books. So its fate remains to be seen.

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