My Kindle and my library card also have my deep affection (and occasional abuse). Every so often, I look at the shelves and think it’s time to lighten up, thin out, get rid of some of the years of hoarded titles, and rely even more fully on the Kindle and the library. I got so far as making a list (an activity which is nearly as pleasurable, in itself, as accumulating the books in the first place). But last night I finished reading Saint Mazie by Jamie Attenberg, a novel about a real life woman named Mazie Phillips, who sold movie tickets at the Venice Theatre on Park Row in New York City during the Depression. I gobbled this book up, just as greedily in love with Mazie as everyone else who learns about her. The novel was over, but I wasn’t ready to be done. Reading the interview with Attenberg that was attached at the back of the book (library loan for Kindle, it should be noted), I discovered that the first piece of journalism about Mazie had been written by Joseph Mitchell and published in The New Yorker. It was later published in his wonderful collection Up In the Old Hotel. I looked up from my reading and locked eyes with Joseph, up on the shelf, where he has been waiting for me to remember him. And that clinches it. There’s no substitute for the books themselves. I love my Kindle, and I wouldn’t part with it. As long as there are libraries, I’ll do my civic duty and run up (and pay off!) overdue fines. But there is kinship and conversation in my piles and shelves and tiny landslides of books, and I can’t do without it.
I’m reading The Bees by Laline Paull, which is wonderful, but I keep stopping to go look up bee facts on Wikipedia and hive videos on YouTube. The scene depicted here takes place in a very similar way in the novel, described with all the personal horror of combat. Happy Monday, isn’t science horrifying?