A Random Image

Jett Superior laid this on you on || July 6, 2009 || 10:20 am

what, do you suppose?

I left my copy of The Sound and The Fury at the beach….my yellowed, slightly-worn paperback is now sitting on teak furniture in a stranger’s house, wanting for new eyes. I was careful to make sure there was no sand in it, but not careful to check for little scraps of memento that I am forever leaving in the leaves of decades-had, manytimesread books.

It was startling to realize that I ‘just don’t do Faulkner’ anymore.

4 worked it out »

  1. Coelecanth 7.7.2009

    I do hope you set the book free deliberately. I love leaving books at airports and wondering where they’ll end up.

    It’s common practice for used book stores to rubberstamp their name and address inside the front cover. I saw one book that had stamps from two cities and three small towns before I put ours in it. It started and Vancouver and was heading east. By now I imagine that it’s somewhere in Europe.

    You wouldn’t believe the things I found in my years running a used book store. There are two that stand out. One was a love letter were every i was dotted with a heart. By the end of it I was really pulling for that girl, I like to imagine her relationship really did work out. The other was some risque photos featuring a cheap hotel room, a naked blonde woman, two fully clothed gentlemen and a volley ball. I’m still wondering about that volley ball.

    Once every couple of years someone on staff would start a collage of things found in the books. Unfortunately I’d have to step in at some point and forbid them from putting it up where people could see. Nevermind the humour and indeed beauty of some of these items, I always had to point out that perhaps the people who lost this stuff might be hurt by strangers laughing at them.

  2. Jettomatika 7.14.2009

    I did indeed set it free deliberately and with a surprising lack of care; it was beautifully yellowed and slightly fanned at the opening where it had been carried and loved so.

    I’m still wondering about that volley ball.

    I get the best comments ever.

  3. red 7.19.2009


    Sometimes the notes are ferocious,

    skirmishes against the author

    raging along the borders of every page

    in tiny black script.

    If I could just get my hands on you,

    Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,

    they seem to say,

    I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

    Other comments are more offhand, dismissive -

    “Nonsense.” “Please!” “HA!!” -

    that kind of thing.

    I remember once looking up from my reading,

    my thumb as a bookmark,

    trying to imagine what the person must look like

    why wrote “Don’t be a ninny”

    alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

    Students are more modest

    needing to leave only their splayed footprints

    along the shore of the page.

    One scrawls “Metaphor” next to a stanza of Eliot’s.

    Another notes the presence of “Irony”

    fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

    Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,

    Hands cupped around their mouths.

    “Absolutely,” they shout

    to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.

    “Yes.” “Bull’s-eye.” “My man!”

    Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points

    rain down along the sidelines.

    And if you have managed to graduate from college

    without ever having written “Man vs. Nature”

    in a margin, perhaps now

    is the time to take one step forward.

    We have all seized the white perimeter as our own

    and reached for a pen if only to show

    we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;

    we pressed a thought into the wayside,

    planted an impression along the verge.

    Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria

    jotted along the borders of the Gospels

    brief asides about the pains of copying,

    a bird signing near their window,

    or the sunlight that illuminated their page-

    anonymous men catching a ride into the future

    on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

    And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,

    they say, until you have read him

    enwreathed with Blake’s furious scribbling.

    Yet the one I think of most often,

    the one that dangles from me like a locket,

    was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye

    I borrowed from the local library

    one slow, hot summer.

    I was just beginning high school then,

    reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,

    and I cannot tell you

    how vastly my loneliness was deepened,

    how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,

    when I found on one page

    A few greasy looking smears

    and next to them, written in soft pencil-

    by a beautiful girl, I could tell,

    whom I would never meet-

    “Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.”

    Billy Collins

  4. Jettomatika 7.21.2009

    You know, until a couple of years ago (college doesn’t count, of course) I never, ever marked up a book; I viewed it as disrespect, no matter how delightful or droll the text. Sacred is sacred.

    Who wants a big ole Cheetos-covered handprint on the Mona Lisa, you know?

    These days my thinking has shifted thusly: “How precious! They wanted so badly to touch the greatness and were so in awe of it and so forgetful of themselves as to not wash hands first.”

    …and toward that end, I’ve become a terrible marker-up of books.


RSS feed for comments on this post.

(you know you want to)