Yesterday I killed off more than 100 old books and transported their analog corpses in a stolen suitcase to a lonely loading dock behind the library and dumped them. Now, thinking back, I can’t help but feel badly about it. To me books always hold more than the stories in them. They hold my memories of reading them and that is why I have such a rough time getting rid of them.
For instance, I bought that Dickens A Tale of Two Cities in high school. It was probably the first “great book” that made me realize that they were called “great books” for a reason. Philip Roth kept me company at the top shack on Chair 6 at June Mountain and may be why I got yelled at for having so many hangers. I don’t remember much about A Yellow Raft In Blue water except that I was glad to have read it before Michael Dorris killed himself (writers. . . ). Never finished John Gardner’s Grendal because I’d never made it all the way through Beuwulf and apparently that would have helped. I read Already Dead, but I still don’t understand all the hype surrounding Denis Johnson. And there is nothing Jonathan Franzen will ever write that I won’t read. The only reason The Corrections ended up on the pile is that after reading it, I bought it in hardback.
But they are gone. And now, we have more room on our shelves. Which is good, I suppose.