03 June 2012

Marginalia: Reflections on Cleaning Out the Library

Cleaning out the library, I find little notes stuck into books, wonder why I have so many copies of Henry II. In one I find a train ticket, from the time my friend Tasha and I went into the city to look for prom dresses. My grandfather's handwriting, tiny, claiming each of his books as his own. 1939, 1951, 1982. The large slightly torn anthology of e.e. cummings, which has been in every place I've called home for as long as I can remember. The bindings of Bertram's Animals have fallen apart but still notes the year it was read to my mother, and the year my mother read it to me.

I love my mother's notes, so often quotidian, marking the passage of time, funny as she describes an ugly airport, notes a drought as "pluvial neglect," or marks more poignant dates. I thought I would share a few of them here.

DSC_0032  DSC_0028 DSC_0040   
Burning Down                    A Bend In The River               Evening
The House                          V.S. Naipaul                          Susan Minot
Charles Baxter                  

DSC_0038   DSC_0026  DSC_0034  
Train                                     Genesis                             The Liberated Bride
Pete Dexter                            Jim Crace                         A.B. Yehoshua

DSC_0048  DSC_0020  DSC_0046
A William Maxwell                  Runaway                        No Country for Old Men
Portrait                                  Alice Munro                    Cormac McCarthy

DSC_0016  DSC_0036   DSC_0022
The Pesthouse                       All My Friends Are                 Falling Man
Jim Crace                               Going to Be Strangers             Don DeLillo
                                                Larry McMurtry

DSC_0018  DSC_0030   DSC_0024
Out Stealing Horses              The Almost Moon                 Peace
Per Patterson                         Alice Sebold                      Richard Bausch

I found this one in a favorite volume of Thomas Lynch. I opened the book to read:
"better a tidy science for a heart that stops, than the round and witless horror of someone who, one dry night in perfect humor, ceases measurably to be."


GretchenJoanna said...

Oh, these are wonderful and inspiring! Thank you for sharing. It's a joy to see how someone loved her books in this everyday way. What a blessing that she included them as part of a diary, in a way, that is now part of your life.
I have a few books with ancestors' names and notes in them, and it means a lot to me just to have examples of their handwriting.

Mrs. Ed said...

How sweet. I like how some books were marked with the reason for getting them. I mark up my cookbooks with the date I first try the recipe, any changes made and how they came out. I always felt guilty marking in other books for some weird reason, until recently working on a writing project, I feel like I've vandalized the books with my highlighters.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mercedes,

Thank for the poignant marginalia. The book selection makes an ideal reading list, no surprise as your mother chose wonderful books. I especially liked that she read the William Maxwell Portrait on jury duty in Baltimore City. Please keep blogging from your new home. Your recent recipes look fabulous.

Love Katherine and Michael