I was sorting books in my garage today. Sorting. That's not an accurate description of what I was doing. My garage is overflowing with books and I've been thinking for a long time now about putting them in order. Well, today was a windy rainy day and Rosalie was working, so I started the chore. I have many series of books by my favorite authors, but they were scattered all over the place, some in my computer room, some in the garage in any number of empty kitty litter containers--Ed McBain, Elmore Leonard, Robert B. Parker, John D. MacDonald, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, James Lee Burke, John Sandford, Lawrence Block, Stephen White, Jonathan Kellerman, Kathy Reichs, P. J. Parrish, C. J. Box, Jeffrey Deaver, Robert Crais, Dean Koontz. And that's naming only the most prolific of them. I had to cut out tiny sticky tabs to paste to the covers so I could number them in the series, checking to see which ones I didn't have. This all might sound a little like O.C. behavior. Well, yes, I'm obsessive, I'm compulsive about the books I read. But I discovered in going through them all, how many I could part with and how many I just had to keep. All the John Pattersons (can no longer stand him) went in the pile I'm going to sell. All the Stephen Kings (can no longer stand him), all the collections of short stories I've had since I began teaching (I haven't read a short story in about twenty years), all the odd ball books I've read in the last ten years. I found books I haven't seen for thirty years, all still stored in my garage. I found the text I used for American Lit and went through it to discard all the papers I'd stuck in through the years. I found a copy of poems by e. e. cummings that I'd used with my classes, and with it was this one above that I'd written to demonstrate the cummings' style, the play with the visual aspects of language. Fellow poet Karl Shapiro had this to say about cummings: "This poet is most concerned with the component integers of the word, the curve of 'e,' rhythm of 'm,' astonishment of 'o' and their arranged derangement."
I think my back is going to be talking to me tomorrow. I haven't done any serious lifting for a long time. And I'm still only about halfway done with my project. Oh, yes, and I now know how difficult it is to part with the "stuff" of one's life. What I plan to do with the various series I'm saving? Read them all again. That should take me to the end of my life, at which time I will finally be able to cast them aside.