samedi 20 décembre 2008

Liberating the Nazi Librarian within




Yesterday, Mr. Wonderful, Neko and I went to pick up my snowed-in, stir-crazy mom and take her to her boyfriend's place before she went berzerk and killed a neighbor or the postman. Remember how I said we used to love to sled on Fentonwood hill? It seems that is still the tradition, although my inner child took one look at the ice and said no fucking way do I want to do that again. My inner child seems to have matured along with me, and now prefers indoor activities and sipping hot chocolate when the weather outside is frightful. Give me a warm indoor fire any day. And a project or two, the kind you never seem to get around to.


Every adult I have spoken to is organizing closets and deep cleaning kitchens. I got this sudden rage to organize our bookshelves. Actually, this was not so sudden. We built them last year, after my books and many of my belongings finally arrived from France. This was a 25-year accumulation of stuff, people. Mostly books, music and knick-knacks. We needed someplace to put the books, fast. I tried to find a suitable system at IKEA and other places, but nothing seemed quite right.

So we talked to Sean, our friend and the architect who designed our house, and he came up with the perfect solution for a space we really did not know what to do with anyway. It is not really an entryway, but not suitable for anything else. Except the three bookcases we installed. Walt had his shop guys weld the frames and we bought the wood at Home Depot. We used rusted rebar that was lying on the ground in the scrap yard at Machinists Inc to support the wooden shelves. The great thing is that the shelves can be adjusted to any height, since they rest on the rebar, which itself rests on the welded metal.

But we built them one-by-one and started putting the books on them as we built. Well, okay, I did that. I couldn't wait and I couldn't stand tripping over all of our books. We have a lot of books, many in duplicate or triplicate. As a result of this piecemeal arrangement, once all the shelves were in we had to move stuff around and the organizing system I had put in place fell apart. We repeated this same mistake for our CDs. The result in both cases is that for the past year, we have been unable to find any of the books or CDs we might wish to get our hands on. Plus, we had no light in the area, so after dark we could not find them even if they were organized. We finally (And just so you know, whenever I say "we" it usually means Walt executes what I mandate. I mandate and mandate until it gets done.) got some little clip-on lights at IKEA, and that's when I realized just how jumbled all the books and CDs were. A few days ago, I tackled the CDs. I already had these cool wire baskets from Staples; now all of our CDs are neatly arranged. Listening to the music we own has been an indescribable pleasure.



Now for the books. I just dove into the project this morning and kept at it until it was done. Now Kingsley Amis and Martin Amis are reunited, as they should be, although Amis junior's biography of his father is not, as it is shelved among the biographies. Not to be confused with the autobiographies. I started with fiction in English and, now that it is done, I have conflicting feelings. On the one hand, it doesn't look like there are too many books. Even though we have two of an embarrassing number of works. On the other hand, I saw many books that have been shelved unread. Somehow, between the urge to buy and the trip home, fell the shadow. But there is an upside, as usual. Now I know where the many bought but unread books actually are. If anyone wants to read Bernhard Schlink's The Reader before the film version comes out, just ask. I have it, filed between Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) and Riotous Assembly (Tom Sharpe). Alphabetizing books leads to some incongruous pairings, though. I had a hard time allowing Nabokov's masterpiece Lolita to stand beside The Good People of New York by Thisbe Nissen (who? you are asking yourself, I know you are). Vladimir, forgive me.