Sunday, May 14, 2006

One of the problems with having your daughter move out of the dorm and into an apartment is that she'll decide that she has room for all the books you thought would be in your possession for a few more years and that it's imperative that she take them now because she actually has time to read before she starts her summer session in Prague.

She works in a library! She works in a library bigger than the one you work in!

You follow her around yesterday as she gap-tooths the shelves.

"Are you going to take that copy?" you ask her at one point.

"You bought it for me," she maintains.

Well, yeah, you don't say, but shouldn't she be more sentimentally attached to the mass market edition she read first instead of the nicer copy you got her for Christmas that year so that you and she and her best friend could attend the lecture series on The Brothers Karamazov that the Davidson professor gave at that church in south Charlotte? The way that she is with that mass market copy of The Catcher in the Rye that you've had since 1975 and that she dropped in the swimming pool instead of the nicer trade paper edition you found on the free books table in the library break room and that she's welcome to take?

You introduce her to Library Thing, which she of course thinks is way cool. You show her how you've already started tagging her books there. If she keeps her books there, she won't have to pay a lifetime membership fee, you suggest, not adding that if she keeps them there you can visit them.

"Don't you have an extra copy of Anagrams?" she asks. You go to find it, pleased she appreciates it, even though it means you'll be down to only a first edition hardback that you keep behind glass.

Good-bye Stanley Elkin, Kurt Vonnegut, Heinrich Boll. Good-bye Naipaul—no, wait. He's not on the shelf where he's supposed to be.

"You can borrow them any time you like," she says generously, boxing everyone up.

How about right now?

You don't say it.

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