I hope I am gone from this earth when someone first says, “Remember books, the kind that you could hold in your hand and the words were printed with ink, on paper? Books were cool.”
Oh, and Shoemaker? He read my novel manuscript and took the time to say, “This book would be twice as good if it were half as long.” He’s probably about half right, of course, but I respond in my best Jeff Bridges’ Lebowski voice, “That’s just your opinion, man.”
So, when I moved up here from Illinois, I got rid of about twenty boxes of books. Oblivion was one. I also mailed up here in five boxes the books that were most valuable to me, mostly as a test of the US Post Office, to see if this was a viable method of transporting books thousands of miles. (It’s not.) What happened was, only four of the five boxes arrived. Then a few weeks later the fifth box arrived, torn open with about half its contents missing. I soon determined that the missing books were American Alpine Journals, a yearly journal of which I own about fifty volumes. I have been an editor there at the AAJ since about 1995, so the books’ value was also personal. I have been slowly recollecting the missing volumes. I picked up 1998 just this week.
The creepy thing is that I’m pretty sure that my missing books were sold to Title Wave, the great used bookstore here in Anchorage. I search their copies of my missing books for any personal signs—bookmarks, marginalia, my name (which I generally don’t put in books). I find none. And yet, I don’t let go of this barely rational hunch, this sense that I’m buying books which I already rightfully own.