Today’s prompt: Who is your favorite author and why?
Sometimes actors are asked, “What’s your favorite role?” and they’ll answer: “The role I’m currently playing.” Younger actors might toss in a grand Shakespearean role to prove they have the chops.
It might go something like this:
INTERVIEWER: What’s been your favorite role to perform?
ACTOR: (pretends he’s never heard that question before) Oh, that’s a hard question. (looks lost in thought for a second) If I’m being honest…and I know this will sound cheesy…I’d have to say it’s….it’s…the role I’m currently playing!
ACTOR: (laughs) Ha ha ha, yes. (lowers voice to whisper) But I absolutely adored the time I played King Lear in the Finger Lakes. Such fond memories.
End of scene
BLOGANUARY PROMPT-WRITER: Who’s your favorite author?
BLOGGER: Oh that’s so tough. Let me think. If I’m being honest…and I know this will sound cheesy…I’d have to say the author I’m currently reading! (pauses, lowers voice) But I loved Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Such fond memories.
End of scene
In the words of Natalie Portman, “No more questions.”
Yesterday I went to the library. I picked out two books for myself: The Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead and The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green.
I noticed on the latter’s cover it had a little round “sticker” on it that said “Signed Edition” and, sure enough, when I cracked it open, Green’s autograph was right there. And it was in green!
I’d never run across a signed book in any library! At bookstores, sure, but never a library. I thought it must be a mistake. I accidentally returned my own book to the library once. Maybe someone else had done the same? But then I noticed he left an “explainer” on the purple page opposite his signature.
“I signed with some kind of Sharpie while sitting on the edge of the couch in my basement,” Green wrote. “This sheet of paper was then bound into your copy…”
Oh! So that’s how they do it.
He said he hopes his readers experience the same joy he feels whenever he comes across a signed book.
I always thought authors signed their fully intact books. I had no idea they could just sign a large stack of pages, similar to how famous actors autograph their headshots. Green’s way is much more efficient than what I had imagined and I must say it’s smart marketing. When I saw “Signed Edition” on the book, at the library, I immediately grabbed the book.
I like Green’s writing but I’m not sure it was joy I felt when I saw his signature. In fact, his autograph and explainer triggered that nagging feeling I get when I’ve been manipulated. Of course, there are worse forms of manipulation than being nerdily coerced into checking out a library book. And I am hopeful that I will love his essays so much that I don’t mind. We shall see.
I do want to say that I know the “moment” Green is wishing for his readers and I’ve had one that I doubt will ever be topped.
Last year, my son Angelo (then 11 years old) had a doctor appointment. On his way out, the nurse said something like, “Help yourself to a book.” She motioned to a cart filled with used books. He chose a copy of Blubber by Judy Blume. He showed me his treasure when he got home and I was delighted to see he chose a Blume. Then I was shocked to see that Blume herself had signed it! I was in disbelief, but I looked up her signature and it is a perfect match.
My son and I read the book together and the tattered copy is prominently placed in our living room. I look at it nearly every day the same way I look at the Omar Odeh and Alice Klock art we have on our walls — with wonder, introspection and a touch of sadness.
I adored Judy Blume’s writing when I was young and all of my kids have read several of her books. My 15-year-old son Sam just walked by, peeked at what I was writing and said, “Judy Blume? Oh she has some good writing and good characters,” and walked away.
We have a Little Library in our front yard and most of our books go in there when we’re done with them. But not the Blume. I feel selfish about this. I know I should put it back out into the world so someone else can feel the same euphoria that all of us felt when we saw Blume’s autograph. But I can’t let go. What if I have grandchildren someday? One of them might want me to read it aloud to them.
My kids started their spring break today. Sam, Fern, Angelo and I celebrated by going to the library to stock up on books. Jocelyn celebrated by waking up with a sore throat. She’s still working her way through Stephen King’s The Green Mile so in terms of reading material, she’s set. But I hate that she’s not feeling well.
Anyway, Angelo went upstairs to the children’s section and Fern headed to the teen center. Sam and I went to the stacks to search for a specific book. While we were there, a gentleman came up to me and asked me a question about the library’s 3-D printer.
“I’m not sure,” I told him. “I’ve never used it.”
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I thought you worked here. You have that look.”
I’m not sure what “look” he meant. I was (and am) wearing mom jeans, a turtleneck and Chucks. And as someone who has been to the library hundreds of times, I will tell you the librarians at Hart Interim always look professional. There’s a clerk who has worked there as long as we’ve lived here; he always looks dapper in his sweater, tie, pressed pants and tidy shoes.
After the man went away, I focused my attention back to book-finding. Sam and I continued scouring the stacks for The Road to Serfdom. When he told me it was published in the 1970’s, maybe earlier, I had a lightbulb moment.
“It’s too old to be in the stacks,” I told him. “I just assumed you were looking for a newer book.”
I said we had to ask the librarian to call down for it because they keep “old” books downstairs.
“I would,” she said, “but I’m the only librarian here so I can’t go down to the basement.”
“No worries,” I said. “I’ll just order a hold online.”
We have plenty of books to tide us over and I don’t mind ordering Sam’s book online for him. What concerns me is that she was the only librarian on duty. Doesn’t that seem unsafe?
Rockford, population 150,000, isn’t an enormous metropolis, but any building open to the public should have more than one person working in it. I will say there was a security officer there, too, but that still isn’t enough.
And that poor man who wanted to get into the lab? He’s probably still wandering around, asking strangers for help, desperately telling them, “You have that look!”
I’m being silly. He’s probably figured it out and I’m sure the librarian knows how to take care of business.
All in all, I’m glad the library was open and I’m looking forward to digging in.
Thanks for reading! -Connie
Reminder: Under a deadline to finish a play so my blog entries are shorter and less “thought out” than usual. Read at your own risk.