Monday, March 07, 2011

Ex Libris

"'Alas,' wrote Henry Beecher Ward, 'Where is human nature so weak as in the book store?'" Where indeed? (Unless it is while browsing on Amazon, finger hovering over 'Buy with One Click'?) This, from an essay on second-hand book shops, is just one gem from Anne Fadiman's delightful little book, EX LIBRIS: CONFESSIONS OF A COMMON READER.
This book, given to me by my brother, is right up my street. It is a collection of the columns that Fadiman wrote for the magazine of the Library of Congression. She married another bibliophile so that books play a big part in their marriage. I especially enjoyed 'Marrying Libraries' because some of the debates were all too familiar. My husband and I married libraries, too, and as my husband still had his first wife's books (she had died a few years before I met him), and she had inherited her parents' books, we found we had an awful lot of duplicates - or even triplicates in the case of novels by E. M. Forster, Henry James, and Virginia Woolf. Which ones to keep and where to put them all?
Fadiman's range is wide: plagiarism, unfortunate dedications, mail order catalogues, ink. And there are some wonderful anecdotes here. Haven't we all at some time thought of something we want to make a note of, when no pen is handy? This happened to Sir Walter Scott while he was out hunting: 'a sentence he had been trying to compose all morning leapt into his head. Before it could fade, he shot a crow, plucked a feather, sharpened the tip, dipped it in the crow's blood, and captured the sentence.' That is true dedication to the writing life.

PS. If you'd like to read my hitherto unpublished ghost story, 'A Trick of the Light,' go to www.corridorsmagazine.org where you can read it and a whole lot more for free.

PPS. While I am blowing my own trumpet, my short story, 'Vanishing Act' has just been published in the March/April issue of ELLERY QUEEN'S MYSTERY MAGAZINE. It's set in a hospice and was inspired by the wonderful care that my mother had in St Catherine's Hospice in Scarborough. I am sure she would have approved.

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10 Comments:

Blogger lyn said...

I love Ex Libris. I read it a while ago but don't have a copy. Maybe I should pop over to Amazon? They're offering free shipping to Australia at the moment & I've been tempted a couple of times already. Thanks for the link to your short story. I enjoy a good ghost story so I'll read it at the weekend.

Friday, 11 March, 2011  
Blogger AnnOxford said...

Usually I ignore short stories for novels, But today I'm glad for your "self-promotion," if that's what it was. Just finished "A Trick of the Light," still feeling a chill! Of course you left me wanting more. But the story was very real to me, as if it wasn't fiction and you were e-mailing me about a happening in you and your daughter's life. Merely fantastic! Thank you, Christine, I'll watch for more.

Monday, 14 March, 2011  
Blogger Christine said...

Thank you, Ann! I very much appreciate this. I hope you enjoy it too, Lyn.

Wednesday, 16 March, 2011  
Blogger lyn said...

I've just read your story & it was fantastic. I felt chilled even though it's a warm, sunny afternoon. So much story crammed into such a short space. And it left me with questions at the end as a good ghost story should. I don't like to have everything explained. Thanks for the opportunity to read it.

Sunday, 20 March, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anne Fadiman is coming to Sheffield on 3rd May to talk about the relationship between Coleridge and his son, Hartley. Perhaps you'd like to come? You can register at the following website:
www.sheffield.ac.uk/letterwriting

Sunday, 20 March, 2011  
Blogger Christine said...

Hi Lyn,
Thanks so much for letting me know this. So much of writing is like sending a message in a bottle. You don't know where it fetches up or who reads it, so it's great to have some feedback.

Monday, 21 March, 2011  
Blogger Christine said...

Thanks, Anonymous, that should be worth going to. I'll follow it up.

Monday, 21 March, 2011  
Anonymous David Sylvain said...

I just read your Ellery Queen short story "Vanishing Act" and I loved it ! I had tears in my eyes at the end because I was so happy for Edward. Keep up the good work while I start reading your previous work.

Tuesday, 29 March, 2011  
Blogger Christine said...

Thank you, David. I'm really touched.

Tuesday, 29 March, 2011  
Blogger Christine said...

Thank you, David. I'm really touched.

Tuesday, 29 March, 2011  

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