Sunday, May 27, 2007

DIRTY BOOKS


Nowhere in any biology class, no matter how advanced, no matter how graphic and lurid, did the instructor discuss how books reproduce. In fact, I didn’t even realize that they did reproduce until I recently had to pack them all for our move to Oregon. Good grief! Where did they all come from? Did I really purchase all of them? If so, when did I become a millionaire? Or, oh my gosh, did I steal them? Did I go to friends’ homes and while they were in the kitchen busily preparing onion soup dip sneak off to their libraries and steal books? Did I tuck them into my jeans? Under my sweater? Did friends whisper behind my back that I had gotten so chunky and lumpy?

Since I do not believe I am either a millionaire (actually, I’m pretty sure about that one) or a kleptomaniac, the only logical, scientific conclusion is that books reproduce. Oh, sure, books all look so innocent and chaste lined up back-to-back belly-to-belly in their bookcases. But what happens when the lights are out and they are alone? Well, I maintain there’s a whole lot of canoodling and hanky-panky going on. With Henry Miller, D. H. Lawrence and the Kama Sutra in their neighborhhood, I’m guessing the sex is pretty hot and steamy. The moment the sun starts to rise, they dust off their dust jackets and arrange themselves neatly back on the shelves. Thirty days later, their pocket book children are born.

Now not only do I have to worry about where to store all these books, but I also have to concern myself with who is standing next to whom. I mean, you wouldn’t want delicate hothouse flower Emily Dickinson standing next to James Dickey, the author of Deliverance, would you? Or classy Mary Higgins Clark next to rough-and-tumble Louis L’Amour? I wouldn’t think William Faulkner would have a whole lot to say to Danielle Steel. Real romance, however, might develop between Philip Roth (Portnoy’s Complaint) and Erica Jong (The Fear of Flying). I also think Thomas Wolfe and Joan Didion would enjoy each other’s company over a cosmopolitan at a trendy New York nightclub. Truman Capote might get a kick out of Jackie Collins. I can see them attending a fancy costume ball gossiping about everyone under the sun. Samuel Pepys and Dominick Dunne might enjoy chatting over a glass of chardonnay about the famous and infamous. In fact, Capote, Collins, Pepys and Dunne should all get together. I'm sure they'd have a grand old time. Mystery writers might actually form a club where all sorts of relationships might form and flourish: Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Patterson and Janet Evanovich, gritty, gory Jeffrey Deaver and equally gritty, gory Kathy Reichs, Jonathan Kellerman and Faye Kellerman. Oh, wait… They’re already married. I wonder if they met in a bookcase somewhere. Oh, dear. There on the bottom shelf, all by himself, his face against the wall is J.D. Salinger. It seems nobody can coax him to come out and play.

I believe I’ve stumbled onto a phenomenon that requires far more study and analysis. Perhaps Playboy and Penthouse might want to investigate. Or how about a TV special entitled “The Secret Life of Books?”

12 comments:

OldBagNewTricks said...

OMG, now you've got me frantically checking my bookcases to see who is standing next to whom... Dr. Phil beside Sylvia Plath? Just for kicks... when it occurs to me, you are not well! At All. (But this was really funny!!!! I now have a new game to play in my head while waiting in bank lines and visiting relatives. Hallelujah!

Jenny

Tami said...

I can hardly wait to get over to the library to see who is cavorting with whom. The very idea of this gets me to giggling and feeling a little flush.

Francie M. said...

Ah, thank-you for solving THAT mystery! I was wondering how in the world I got so many books but since I love them so I decided to move Robert Parker next to Janet Evanovich (yes, I know he's married but you know how men are) and Tom Clancy and Sue Grafton together... now who to pair with Dorothy Parker and PD James???? Can you tell I am looking for a lot of mystery babies? :)

Oblique Angles said...

Your pairings make a great deal of sense, although I did put Tom Clancy with Nelson DeMille. I'm thinking of putting Sue Grafton next to Agatha Christie because Christie wrote a book called THE ALPHABET MURDERS. Hmmm... Perhaps Grafton, Christie and Conan Doyle would make an interesting menage a trois! How about PD James with Elizabeth George? And Dorothy Parker with Carl Hiaasen, because they both make me giggle and guffaw.

Vallen said...

This is theory that makes perfect sense. Back in the day when everyone smoked, we were convinced that Bic lighters were just the larval stage of Bic pens. You could never find a lighter when you wanted one, but there were plenty of those cheap pens at the bottom of your purse.
I think I'll write a book and then have you put me on the shelf with......mmmm, let's see, how about Stephen King?

Oblique Angles said...

Vallen,

You're such a artistic, crafty person, I'd put you on the shelf right next to Earlene Fowler, the author of the delightful Benni Harper series. Benni is an artistic, crafty quilter who just happens to be a sleuth. Actually, I was thinking about Stephen King. I can't figure out who his neighbors should be. Any one have any thoughts about him?

Vallen said...

I happen to love Earlene Fowler books. That would be a lovely pairing.

Francie M. said...

ummmm...yes..Stephen King should definitely be put in a corner by himself...far far far away.

Oblique Angles said...

Francie:

Maybe we could put Stephen King with Edgar Allen Poe -- far, far away!

Francie M. said...

Oh my...I wouldn't do that to poor Edgar. :) :) :)

Vallen said...

I was just thinking about the King and Queen connection. I definitely would not want to be paired with him otherwise.

Oblique Angles said...

Vallen, Okay, we'll pair up Stephen King with Ellery Queen and send them on a long, long cruise somewhere dark and sinister.