Bedside Manner: The Great Merging
Old books, new shelves, and the passage from 'me' to 'we'
By Richard Whittaker, 2:04PM, Tue. Sep. 11, 2012
There comes a time when every man finds his book collection in a state of flux. Let us call it the great migration. Otherwise known as 'moving in together.'
Yes, the unthinkable has happened, someone lowered their standards enough to accept my multitude of flaws, and now my collection is undergoing the preliminary ramp-up to the merging. After all, how many copies of The Satanic Verses can one happy household need (internal monologue: In the future, we could spend happy evenings reading alternate words from alternate copies to each other. So, two, minimum.)
Yes, there are shelves to be purchased, weird collections to be explained (like my multiple copies of Death of a President, still the most poignant retelling of the assassination of JFK), and a dire internal struggle of 'do I really need that Andy Kaufman bio?' (quick answer: Since it's the excellent and Quixoitic Andy Kaufman Revealed! by Bob Zmuda, I'll err towards yes. I can be convinced otherwise, though.)
So while the bulk of the collection still resides on increasingly dusty shelves back at the ol' casa, I'm steadily building a mounting pile of new reading material at the new abode. There's an ever-growing stack of the most recent entries into the Hellboy-verse: Dark Horse has turned Mike Mignola's quasi-regular title into a full and fully-realized franchise, arguably the only such graphic enterprise that I am 100% committed to collecting. Mostly, I'll concede, they are work related at some level, or the result of a fine set of recent signings. Chris Claremont's genre-redefining Wolverine trade from a trip to Dragon's Lair; A signed collection of Eerie as illustrated by Austin transplant Bernie Wrightson.
As a writer, it's astounding some days how much what you're writing about drives what you read. Still topping the stack are volumes one and two of the previously-reviewed The Intergalactic Nemesis, but others are definitely in the TBA/TBC stack. The education writer in me has marked up dozens of pages in Diane Ravitch's peerless evisceration of high stakes testing The Death and Life of the Great American School for future discussion. For lighter, grimier relief, I was on the happy receiving end of a stack from Neal Barrett Jr, who is fast heading towards being the dean of Texas literature. His entry into cosmic cowboy literature, the Austin-centered Interstate Dreams, rolls in the mire of a pre-Millennial ATX and is a bus-riding pleasure.
What's really rewarding is seeing books that are now passing from the 'me' to the 'we.' Michael Paterniti's Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain, Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, and Sebastian Junger's The Perfect Storm have already made the leap – perfect travel reading for business trips. There's also a lightly thumbed and heavily giggled copy of Demitri Martin's This is a Book, which went straight from review copy to source of joint mirth.
And soon, the rest makes the great migration. Speaking of which, does anyone have any moving boxes?