Saturday, September 09, 2006


Sloooooow sunny Saturdays

It feels like the last day of summer outside - sunny, warm, soft air, light humidity, about 75 degrees; I think this will be one of the last flip-flop days of the year. A front is coming through tonight and tomorrow to cool things off and it will be in the 40s at night. Good sleeping weather, we call it around here. I sat outside in the park for 45 minutes before opening the shop this morning. I've had two people wander in with collegiate book lists in hand, and I didn't have a single book on those lists. No other customers in sight. It's just too nice out - everyone's either at the ocean, or *ack* at the mall.

An episode of note: yesterday a man came in and we chit-chatted about books and this and that, and out of the blue he said, "My son is the president of The Christopher Morley Society." I goggled at him, and said, "Are you from Roslyn??" And yes, yes he is. He summers in Maine, at a camp which is coincidentally (if you believe in such things, vs. fate or destiny) on the same road my younger sister lives on. He goes by her house every day on his morning run. Small world, I love it. He went on to tell me that his son is the person who tends Christopher Morley's grave. I almost cried. I told him with firm conviction that Morley's work has meant a great deal to me, and still does, and would he please give my card to his son. Perhaps I need to finally join this Society. His son also went to the same college I did, although a decade earlier. The man said, "He'll call you!" I hope he does. All this on an otherwise quiet Friday afternoon. What a life I lead.

Meantime, Ryan is about to head to Washington, D.C. for a week. I can't go on this trip, so I plan to engage in some heavy-duty moping for the forseeable future. We're not codependent, but we are interdependent, and I'll miss him like mad. He says he'll visit Second Story Books for me. I think I'll spend some time in the evenings this week - get ready for this - culling my books at home. It's gotten to the point where I can't bring any new books home, I just can't, because I have no space left, not for one single book more. And they are multiplying like toy lop-eared bunnies in my miniscule storage area at the shop, and subsequently I can't store books for the shop in my shop storage area. It's bad. I have several three-foot-high piles of books behind me, and customers keep asking, "Whatcha got back there? Those for sale? Can I take a look?" And I have to say, "No, no, those are my books, I'm taking them home to read... soon." But I'm not, am I. With no shelf space. So, a project for this week. And I can - ahem - dust the keepers, at the same time.

Back to the sunny park this morning: today I was reading James Schuyler's Collected Poems (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 1993), and finding it deeply rewarding. Much of it is (as I also find some of the poetry of his pals Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery to be) often incomprehensible to me, but I can let this ride because my confusion is offset by his frequent flashes of sheer beauty and fine phrasing that are veins of gold. And because sometimes I need to be reminded that I don't have to, and in fact can't, understand every little thing. Here are a few lines that really get me:

p.16 - the first line of A Man in Blue:

"Under the French horns of a November afternoon..."

pp.59-60 - a few lines from the marvelous Things to Do:

"Balance checkbook.
Rid lawn of onion grass. ...
Impasse. Walk three miles
a day beginning tomorrow.
Alphabetize. ...
Complain to laundry
any laundry. Ask for borrowed books back."

p.99 - a few lines from The Trash Book:

"...that stump there that knows
now it will never grow
up to be some pencils or
a yacht even. ..."

p.117 - from The Crystal Lithium:

"...January, laid out on a bed of ice, disgorging
February, shaped like a flounder, and March with her steel bead pocketbook,
And April, goofy and under-dressed and with a loud laugh, and May
Who will of course be voted Miss Best Liked (she expects it)..."

I won't go further (a polite hat-tip to copyright infringement), although I'd love to quote a few poems in their entirety - particularly Salute (p.44) - but instead I'll just say, Go find the book yourself, and read it. I'm off to have lunch and wonder if I will sell a single book today.

What an extraordinary coincidence, meeting the father of the president of the Christopher Morley Society! I am way jealous :-) Is this the Knothole Association (Peter Kohn is listed as president on their website) or another society?

My town celebrated Town Day today and I spent some time at the annual library book sale, leaving with a half-dozen selections, including Bruce Chatwin's Utz. So, see, you have had an influence with your lists.

I hope Ryan has a good time in Washington. I went to grad school at the U Md, just up the road, and spent a lot of happy time in DC.

Hey Dan - I know, I was floored. I don't know if it's the same guy as the Knothole, I didn't want to pelt him with questions (and I always want to respect people's privacy). I'll keep you posted, if I hear from him. I'm thinking more and more that I need to visit Roslyn.

I hope you like "Utz" - A strange and near-perfect little novel about a true collector. Again, shoulda won the Booker Prize that year. If you like it, read "In Patagonia" next.

Ryan's looking forward to seeing D.C. and surrounds, it's been a few years since he was there last. He's going to be running a lot, both at his conference, and literally (he's training for another marathon, in October, so he's putting in miles every day). I'll pass on your good wishes, thanks, Dan.
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