Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Used Books

I love going to used bookstores. I will often buy used books of authors I am unfamiliar with to try them out.

When I read a used book, I often have a feeling of spiritual camaraderie with the previous owner. Did they enjoy the book? Did they delight in the same passages? Is that why the pages are stuck together? Did they sell the book because it sucked, because they needed more room, because they needed the money?

It's the same kind of feeling I get when I see someone on a bus reading a book I love. I just want to gush and talk to them about the book and possibly follow them home without their knowledge. It's that full feeling in your chest that makes you want to smother someone with joy, with a thick, white pillow until they stop breathing. I wonder if Jeffrey Dahmer loved books as well?

I hate to say this because it invites scorn, ridicule. I know--after being called a 'gaywad', 'pillow biter', 'butt muncher', I shouldn't be afraid being called a 'poetry reader.'

Yes, two of my favorite books are books of poetry. They are e.e. cummings' Tulips&Chimneys and is 5 which I bought from a used bookstore after I saw the movie Hannah and Her Sisters nearly ten years ago.

In the movie, Michael Caine, a married man, tries to woo his wife's sister into an affair by asking her to read a poem in an e.e. cummings book. The poem is so powerful that the sister considers an affair with him.

I wanted to read this poem that was so powerful it incited such amorousness.

I bought the books and I loved the poems. The books were well cared for but also obviously well read. The edges showed wear where they were pulled to and from a shelf; the creases on the spine were numerous, easily opening to certain sections of the books.

And there was something else I found. In some of the pages, favorite passages were neatly, sparingly, underlined. In others, poem numbers were encircled, like a halo bestowed. But in a select few, there were little neatly drawn pictures which seemed to me the reader's impressions of the poem. These were deliberately drawn--not idle doodles--in colored pen.

I felt like I was reading the poems along with this other person, sharing intimate thoughts. I conjectured that both books of poetry were owned by the same person, a man, probably reasonably attractive, because otherwise, I couldn't imagine the possibility of sex between us.

I wondered who this man was. I wanted to talk to him and I wanted to ask him what other images came to mind when he read the poems.

I wanted to ask him why these books left his possession, these books that he so obviously loved.


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NEXT: Mint Condition

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Bjork interprets an e.e. cummings song in her CD MedĂșlla

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