>I lost a book. This hasn’t happened to me in years! I think the last time was in 8th grade, back in 1975. I have had some near misses over the years, but the book was always found. There was also the time I inadvertently sold Manfred, Jr’s copy of Election on eBay. I thought it was my book. It’s not lost — it’s just somewhere in Duluth. Manfred, Jr. is still not happy about it, though.
But back to the book I lost. To make matters worse, it wasn’t even my book. It was a book Pablo loaned me. After looking in all possible places, I decided to tell him.
“Dontcha hate it when you can’t find something? And you’ve looked and looked EVERYWHERE. And dontcha hate it when it’s a book you’ve lost…well, maybe misplaced. A book you were enjoying so much! And dontcha hate it when it’s not even your book, that it’s a book that someone let you borrow?”
Pablo’s attention sharpened. “What book?”
“Song of Solomon. But I’ll find it, don’t worry. Or replace it. You know I will.”
“Well, that’s all right. I thought you were talking about my folio edition of The Maltese Falcon, and then I’d have to kill you.”
“Oh no, I’m careful with that one.”
(Folio books intimidate me. I won’t even touch them unless I’ve scrubbed my hands with soap and water two or three times!)
I really hate it that Song of Solomon seems to have vanished. It’s my own fault. I was enjoying the book so much, I was carrying it from place to place to place, trying to capture a few stolen minutes of reading time.
What else was there to do but go to bookcrossing.com and bleat piteously, shamelessly begging for a replacement copy? As an act of contrition, I offered The Historian as an exchange. Well, I guess it wasn’t just contrition — I knew it was also pretty damn good bait. Still, I had hoped to hang onto The Historian for a while longer and use it as bait for something that I might covet later on down the road.
A kind woman living in Tennessee with whom I’ve traded before just happened to have Song of Solomon on her bookshelf, so she answered my pathetic plea and now the book is winging its way to Korea.
Naturally, this bookwormy crisis has affected my reading. One minute I’m eagerly reading, waiting to see if Hagar is really going to go ahead and bump off her cousin and lover, Milkman Dead, and wondering what other crazy skeletons his family has in their various closets, and if Guitar is going to be able to carry out his grisly duty as the Sunday man, and the next minute, the damn book’s gone and I’m stranded with nothing to read!
Nothing to read. Ha. At last count, I had a mountain of 20 books piled up, waiting to be read. None of them would do. I gazed at the titles disinterestedly with a glazed eye, muttering things that made me sound like I was a refugee from Deadwood.
Finally, I grabbed Arrowsmith, the book I liberated from that bar in Busan last spring. Usually Sinclair Lewis can shake me out of a funk. I read a few sentences then slammed it shut, exclaiming: “Where IS that fucking book? Damn it!” Clearly, Arrowsmith was not having the desired effect.
I went to amazon.com and browsed moodily. Suddenly, I sat upright. A new Harvey Pekar book! A novel! THE QUITTER. A graphic novel! Pekar had suddenly been quiet after the AMERICAN SPLENDOR hoopla, and he hadn’t updated his blog, so I’d been worried about his health.
I smiled. THE QUITTER would cheer me up. Then I snarled at the monitor. No, I wouldn’t order it! I’d punish myself further for losing a book! I wouldn’t allow myself any enjoyment from books until SONG OF SOLOMON arrived and I finished it and gave it to Pablo!
Sulking and reading. It’s like the walking and chewing gum thing; I can’t do both at once. My reading totals for October are gonna suck. Damn! I can’t stand it! WHERE THE HELL DID I LEAVE THAT BOOK??? Furthermore, why couldn’t this have happened to one of my books, preferably ATLAS SHRUGGED?