Before IROB died a not entirely unexpected death, I had started discussing a concept I have labeled “biblio-sentimentality.” Biblio-sentimentality is the emotional attraction to books that have inscriptions, notes or items inside them that causes me to purchase such books, even when the content of the book may not be meaningful to me. I divide the items that inspire biblio-sentimentality into three categories: ephemera, or items left in books that have nothing to do with the book itself (which I discussed in this entry); inscriptions, which can be from the author or messages to a gift recipient; and marginalia, which includes notations in margins in books as well as highlighting and underlining. We often see books with particularly compelling items that tug at our biblio-sentimentality and we have to buy the book. We worry that the book is sad or lonely. We feel we need to rescue it.
(Mr OTC and I are well-matched in our near-animist capability of seeing emotions in inanimate objects. We see a well-loved book and think it is miserable because it was parted from its reader. We finally bought a new car after driving a 17-year-old Honda until the wheels nearly fell off and when we left it at the dealership I was afraid the car, a she-car, would be bereft because we abandoned her for a shinier and more reliable replacement. We frequently try to appease our home, which has eldritch elements that at times seem threatening but can be tamped down if we keep our complaints to ourselves.)
This entry will show a couple my favorite examples of marginalia in my collection.
The first is actually a hybrid of sorts, an excellent example of marginalia and book customization. This edition of Liber Kaos is Mr OTC’s book and he bought it because it just seemed nuts that someone who took this much time to reinforce a book binding would willingly get rid of it.
The book just seemed too personalized to have been left at the used book store for anything other than a very dire reason. Someone carefully measured out near-equidistant spots for holes, took an awl and carefully punctured the cover and pages, and laced waxed twine through the holes. I’ve never seen a book customized this way and it points to a reader who, at some point, felt this book to be very important.
I don’t think we have too many examples of customized books but I also have swathes of books that I haven’t examined in a while and sometimes Mr OTC slides books into shelves before I am able to inspect and inventory them. But in all my time in book accumulation, I haven’t seen this sort of careful alteration.
Wes Craven died this evening. Evidently he had brain cancer. He was 76, which still seems far too young for him to die.
Everyone knows him from the Nightmare on Elm Street films. The first in the series was quite good, but eventually Freddy Krueger became too campy, the intensity of the horror lost among cringe-inducing puns.
Less acclaimed but, in my opinion, far superior to the Elm Street series was People Under the Stairs. That film managed to include just about every hot button that comes up in horror films – sick secluded family, racist abuse, incest, child abuse, among them – and combined them all into a film so creepy that, were it not for the fashions involved, still seems very modern in its approach to real horror.
Mostly I will remember Wes Craven for being the architect of a film that absolutely destroyed me when I first saw it. In Last House on the Left, an update of Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, Mari and Phyllis are waylaid during their attempts to find drugs before a concert. Their abductors take them into the woods to torture, rape and eventually murder them. Their murderers end up needing assistance from Mari’s family and Mari’s parents realize the people in their home killed their child and seek violent revenge.
There is a scene in this film where Mari, after she has been raped and mutilated, walks into a lake to clean herself. Once she is out into the lake, her captors shoot her to death and she begins to float, her long hair clinging to the surface of the water, spreading out in a corona around her. Of all the horrible images and acts in this film, that image of Mari in the water is the one that stays with me and there’s no wonder why. Young women floating dead in water is an image that has been with us for centuries. Ophelia instantly comes to mind. So does the Lady of Shallot, though she was in a boat. Most relevant for me is L’Inconnue de la Seine, a beautiful young woman found dead in the Seine in the late 1880s. Her death mask became a collector’s piece and her image now graces all Resusci Annie mannequins used to train people to perform CPR. She was considered an example of perfect female beauty. Her story was told over and over in literature and art and I’ve linked her with Mari in my mind, two lost young girls, killed vilely but washed clean.
Though dubbed an exploitation film, Last House on the Left appalled 1972 moviegoers with its audacious and all-too-real violence, but the movie was far more than just a vehicle for splatter and gore. It tugged at the primal needs of mankind to protect the young and vulnerable among us, and reminded us how quickly the suburban family can become atavistic killers when their own are threatened or harmed. It taps into the very fairy tales that make up our earliest introductions to literature, telling us of little children lured into the woods and those foolhardy enough to walk into danger on their own. In so many ways the film harked back to the gruesome violence of the early, unsanitized Grimm tales that we’d forgotten after so many Disney reinterpretations, tropes that we glossed over because we felt we were far too civilized to share with our children the real danger of following breadcrumbs, or, in Mari and Phyllis’s case, knocking on the witch’s door.
Wes Craven was a genius who understood the primal violence that threatens us and how easily we shed our modernity and squeamishness when we need to protect those we love or seek vengeance against those who harm us.
Wes was also a man who understood so well the tropes of the genre he helped create that he seamlessly subverted them in the Scream series, an almost intolerably self-aware and clever look at how we again all learned the danger of going into the woods – horror movies showed us the danger – but we end up in the woods nonetheless. Knowing rules saved few from the knife.
There is so much more that can be said about Wes Craven but I am going to leave it alone now, and perhaps watch The Serpent and the Rainbow again this week. God speed, Mr Craven.
This entire entry is NSFW. And in some regards, NSFL, but if you’re reading here you’re probably made of stern stuff. But be warned – most of this entry could get you fired if your IT team at work is on the ball.
Peter Tägtgren (of Hypocrisy and Pain fame) teamed up with Til Lindemann from Rammstein in a project called Lindemann and the first single, at first listen, was a paean to sexual frustration and complete misanthropy. I’m always up for that which is sexually uncomfortable and I sort of loathe most of humanity, so “Praise Abort” was up my alley. It was also deeply funny and we need more humor in music, I think. God knows “Praise Abort” would be a complete mental massacre without some humor.
I’ve not followed Peter Tägtgren’s career that closely. When I was but a wee lass, I listened to Hypocrisy from time to time. I checked out Pain on YouTube and the first video that came up was for a song called “Shut Your Mouth.” Tägtgren is obviously not a dude adverse to humor in his music, and the video for “Shut Your Mouth” verges into silliness. But whether or not you like humor in your metal, how can you not like a song with a chorus like “Just wipe your own ass and shut your mouth!”
And because I am a hopelessly shallow woman, I can say that now that I know that Peter Tägtgren is no longer a metallic ringer for Johnny Depp
and is transforming into Christopher Walken, I find him far more interesting and can see myself checking out more Pain once this discussion is completed.
Type of Book: Fiction, short stories, flash fiction
Why Do I Consider This Book Is Odd: Because it’s not immediately clear which Shane Hinton wrote this book.
Availability: Published by Burrow Press in 2015, you can get a copy here:
Comments: Shane Hinton has a bit of Jon Konrath in him, or maybe Jon has a bit of Shane in him. Or maybe they both have a bit of someone I have yet to read in them both. But this collection shows that Hinton has an eye and ear for the absurd in daily life, though he ventures into the speculative more than Konrath does. And I only mention Konrath because I found myself chugging NyQuil Cough formula like it was soda the other day and ended up having a bad dream about that infant-mouse-covered snake on the front of this book. In my dream the snake had charmed the mice like a sort of reptilian Charles Manson and they were ready to do his bidding, except I also think the snake was female. A lot of it I’ve forgotten, which is probably a good thing. But I did have the nightmare. That much I do know.
Before I begin to discuss this book in earnest, I want to mention that there is some interesting meta going on in this collection, and meta I have seen in other books recently. I don’t think it’s happening enough to call it a trend, but this summer I managed to read three books wherein the characters were named for the authors. Hank Kirton named a couple of characters in his short story collection Bleak Holiday after himself. Brian Whitney’s Raping the Gods sports a protagonist named Brian Whitney, which may be because the book is autobiographical (and I am afraid to find out if it is indeed autobiographical). And every male protagonist in Pinkies is Shane Hinton. One story boasts dozens of Shane Hintons.
I can feel the desire to go on at extraordinary lengths rising up because I genuinely enjoyed this collection, so I’m going to limit myself to the stories I liked best. Every story works on some level – there wasn’t a clunker to be found – but I decided to limit myself to four of the sixteen stories in this slim volume. Let us all cross our fingers that such a measure keeps my verbosity more or less in check, but I think it’s safe to say this is going to be very long, because this is a good collection and because this is the first book review on Odd Things Considered and I feel self-indulgent with celebratory bookishness.
This change was a long time coming. Over the years I’ve maintained a “conspiracy theory” blog, a regular book blog, a LiveJournal with tons of pictures of my strange travels and trips to creepy places, and my odd books blog, the latter being how most people came to know me. I now have most of that old content here on this site. What ultimately spurred the change-over is that the database on I Read Odd Books became corrupted. Mr OTC (formerly Mr Oddbooks) could have fixed it, in the fullness of time, but it would have taken a while. Combining all the sites with a new back end seemed a far better option than continuing to finesse a site that was, in my expert, technical opinion, electronically haunted.
The best part is that I will be able to write here far more than I did in the past. Having content scattered hither and yon was in a way very tiresome. Now I have one place to write about odd books, strange cinema, bizarre music, and strange travels, and that will result in a site that is updated far more regularly.
The other sites will redirect here indefinitely, but will eventually come offline. All the old IROB links will eventually automatically redirect here, too. Bear with us as we iron out any wrinkles and if you see any issues, please let me know. Some of the Conspiracy Theory entries are borked as the images didn’t make it over with them but that will be fixed soon.
Right now we are working with the bare basics but we will be tarting up the site as the spirit moves us. I’ll be adding new content as we fix up the site. This week I’m itching to discuss the new Lindemann video and have an excellent book to kick off Odd Things Considered – Shane Hinton’s Pinkies.
So welcome to Odd Things Considered! Stick around – I think we’ll have more to talk about in this new e-neck of the woods.
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Because it made me feel sorry for Chevy Chase for like a minute or so.
Availability: Published by Soft Skull in 2010, you can get a copy here:
Comments: I bought this book in my typical accumulator manner. I was at the annual New Year’s Day sale at BookPeople and the title caught my eye because like all slightly weird girls in the ’80s I was way into Eraserhead. It took me a couple of years to get around to reading it and I should have read it the moment I brought it home because this is a very readable and entertaining biography-true crime hybrid. The prologue of this book is one of the funniest things I have ever read. Ten pages of utter mayhem that should have humbled Chevy Chase forever. The prologue is the price of admission for this book, the reason you should read it, but after those hilarious, raucous ten pages, the rest of the book is deeply engrossing.
I had never heard of Peter Ivers before this book, which means I also had not heard of New Wave Theatre. He was a man who needed a book to help people like me know who he was and why he was so important and influential, even though his name is not remembered to the degree that his influence should dictate. The book as a whole is a look at how the Ivy League drama departments and National Lampoon magazine spawned Saturday Night Live, a whole bunch of hilarious 70s films like Caddyshack, and how Peter Ivers was a member of all those specific tribes as well as being a pioneer who introduced punk and new wave music to America on an early cable station.
Peter Ivers was one of those people who was perpetually ahead of the curve, able to know instinctively what was going to be the next big thing. Educated at Harvard, Ivers was primarily a musician and a song writer but his influence spilled over into much of the entertainment industry. Yet despite having his finger on many pulses, he never really achieved the level of fame his talent and perspicacity deserved. Worse, he was murdered right when it looked like he was about to become as famous as the people in his circles, like Harold Ramis, John Belushi, and Chevy Chase. His is a very sad story in so many ways, but at the same time the overwhelming sadness wasn’t apparent to me until I began to write this discussion because this book really is such an engaging, rollicking read that the sheer entertainment value of the book blunted the injustice of Ivers’ murder. That’s not a flaw, either, because eventually the reality of the waste of life hits you, but it’s also a testament to the interesting nature of Ivers’ life and the interesting nature of those around him that this is not a wholly sad book.
It’s actually maddening to realize what an interesting person Ivers was and know that he slipped under my radar for all these years, and the reason he was not even a blip on the mainstream radar is because he was indeed so far ahead of the curve that the public didn’t appreciate his efforts until the moment was gone. Muddy Waters once said that Ivers, who never missed a chance to jump up on stage and jam with blues men of great renown, was the best blues harmonica player alive, but Ivers’ band’s new wave album was released and received with little fanfare. However, David Lynch heard Ivers’ album and decided that Ivers’ sound was just what he needed for his bizarre film school effort, Eraserhead.
Typical of Ivers career, being recognized by Lynch and working with the filmmaker didn’t really do much for Ivers’ career, even though Ivers was responsible for one of the most iconic scenes and songs in film history – the mumps-cheeked girl in the radiator singing “In Heaven Everything Is Fine.”
That creepy voice? That’s Ivers. How the hell did I not know this all these years?
Well, I didn’t know it because Ivers’ influence and talent were often a part of someone else’s dream and goal.
Ivers seems to be best known for his work on New Wave Theater, an early live performance cable show with a format that introduced the public to a number of LA new wave and punk bands and popular comedians. Peter, the host, played the provocative, Harvard Boy weirdo to many rough-edged bands. Ivers was a tiny man but never failed in his role, often angering bands, sometimes being threatened by them as he interviewed them. That he often assumed a slightly homosexual persona only caused some of the more macho bands to channel their sense of unease into potential violence. However, many bands caught onto what was happening, understood the purpose of Ivers’ veiled jabs and sparkly appearance, and became friends with him, notably members from bands Fear, 45 Grave and The Dead Kennedys.
After a couple of years of hosting New Wave Theater, Ivers began to chafe under the pressure put on him by show producer David Jove, a drug-addled madman who surrounded himself with even madder madmen. Ivers had found a song-writing partner and together they were creating excellent songs that were selling well, and was poised to take his career in a new direction. Diana Ross and the Pointer Sisters ended up performing songs he and his partner wrote. With a blossoming career as a songwriter ahead of him, he eventually gave Jove notice on New Wave Theater. Shortly after giving notice, Ivers was found in his apartment, bludgeoned to death with a hammer.
The way the police handled the case will leave incredulous anyone with the most basic understanding of crime scene containment and murder investigation. Before the investigation even began, while the bloody sheets were still on the bed where Ivers died, people were permitted to come into Ivers apartment and rifle through his belongings, take out items, bring in new items and ultimately the police felt that Ivers was just some freak who likely got picked off by one of the punks he hung around with. The influence of the famous people advocating for Ivers – an ex-girlfriend who was a studio executive and Harold Ramis among them – wasn’t enough to overcome the horrible way the police handled the investigation. He was killed in 1983 and the most-likely suspect has died of cancer, so there will never be much in the way of justice for Ivers, outside of this book that shows us all how important Ivers was and how was he the sort of guy who anticipated MTV several years in advance, who understood the importance of David Lynch before anyone else, who could walk the talk amongst Harvard graduates, street punks, Hollywood executives, pop stars, blues men, and the cinema avant garde.
The book details all the relationships Ivers had with rich and powerful people, as well as giving the reader a look at his personal and romantic relationships. The former are pretty interesting, the latter less so (I found his long-term girlfriend so insufferable that I found myself glossing over all passages involving her – she was the sort of woman who considered herself counter-cultural, accepted a job with a major studio in defiance of her personal beliefs, then spent weeks crying about it – bleah), but even the less interesting passages don’t really diminish what an interesting person Ivers was and how interesting this book is. I sailed through it in two readings. Seldom do biographies or true crime books demand my attention this way.
The best line in the book:
To Peter, underutilized potential was a tear in the fabric of the cosmos.
The hell of it is, Peter’s potential was never underutilized. Plenty of people utilized it. He just didn’t receive much benefit from all that utilization.
This is one of my shorter reviews because the scope of this book is such that one either goes on at length and still barely scratches the surface or one mentions the best parts and still barely scratches the surface. For once I decided to err on the side of word conservation.
But I cannot emphasize enough how very funny, actually hilarious, the prologue is. Seriously, I read it out loud to Mr Oddbooks and we both laughed until we could not breathe. Chevy Chase, in a mohawk wig, trying to host a New Wave Theater-successor while shit-faced drunk, completely unfamiliar with punk culture, screaming at bewildered punks, “IS THERE ANYONE ELSE WHO THINKS THEY CAN TAKE ME DOWN?!” while Cyndi Lauper waits in the wings, presumably wondering if she should fire her manager. Highly recommended.
Comments: Sarah Perry wrote this book from a place of philosophical intellectualism and factual integrity. She exhaustively researched the hows and whys of suicide and procreation and makes a very compelling case for making suicide accessible for people who do not want to live and for considering whether or not it is ethical to continue to create new humans whose lives may be more a burden to them than a gift. As she deftly picks apart the arguments against suicide and antinatalism, she bestows upon mankind a dignity and respect for self that anti-suicide and pro-birth crusaders deny us as we are asked to suffer and to mindlessly recreate ourselves because of tyrannies of tradition and religious mores.
I very much want to discuss this book in a bloodless manner because the subject matter is so fraught with emotional reaction, much of it knee-jerk, that makes the topic hard to discuss in an intelligent way. When you speak to people whose loved ones killed themselves, you hear them speak of the cowardice and selfishness of suicide. When you talk of people who did not have children, you all too often hear others dismiss ethical childlessness as selfish, or insist that if only one had a child, one would know, really know, what true love means. To approach a counter to such topics with emotion is pissing in the wind because the very basis for avoiding suicide and encouraging procreation is steeped in emotion.
But given my personal history and recent events in my life, I can only approach these topics – especially suicide – from a place of emotion and personal anecdote. I hope that as I write from my id I do this topic justice. This book really is a paradigm changer, and you don’t have to adopt an antinatalist world view for that to happen. It is a book that argues against some of the most deeply ingrained habits of human existence – to remain living at all costs and to spread one’s seed far and wide – and it makes the case that our reason and self-awareness are not entirely a great gift and that possession of them should permit us to control how we decide to die rather than be used as a manipulative tool to keep us living.
And there is no way to discuss the entirety of this book. Know that I will be unable to discuss large amounts of this book and that you need to read it yourself. All I can do is discuss what I experienced when reading this book and how it relates to my life.
I’ve had some serious insomnia lately, which means I’ve been up during the middle of the night, reading lunatic shit, mostly on Reddit. I’ve come across a couple of strange topics I wanted to share with you guys.
The first involves another lost German child. Not long ago I talked about the case of Tristan Bruebach, a German teenager killed brutally in a tunnel in Frankfurt in 1998. I had never heard of that particular MO before and the crime itself was utterly shocking. This time the child in question was literally lost. Dirk Schiller disappeared on a vacation with his family in the former East Germany in 1979. As in the family was walking to their car in a snow covered lot and the little boy disappeared without a trace.
His mother never gave up looking for him and there is a level of conspiracy attached to this case that gives even a skeptic like me pause. This site does a great job covering the case, explaining the Stasi connection, and a possible link to medical experimentation. This is a seriously twitchy case, and it’s made all the more twitchy given the release of the family’s Stasi files. I lost hours reading about this case.
The other strange tidbit I want to share is also from Reddit, and is amusing, bordering on hilarious, once you read enough to realize that your initial conclusion was incorrect and that the person in question is not into waterfowl bestiality. Readers, I give you /u/fuckswithducks. His comment history is a gold mine and I lost even more hours reading his deep love of rubber duckies, his encyclopedic knowledge of them as well as how he uses them in his sex life.
I shit you not, I read comment after comment to Mr Oddbooks until he pleaded with me to shut up. Here are some examples, all links as they were in the original comments.
Duck size is important:
Let’s talk about duck size. I’m really not interested in small ducks. On the other hand, big ducks are nice, but they’re just impractical. What the hell am I supposed to do with them?! My ideal duck size is 3-6 inches tall. Also, I don’t really like fat ducks. I’m just looking for nice, standard, medium-sized ducks like these.
It is possible to have a favorite rubber duck, and to know so much about that duck that people may think you are making shit up until they Google and realize you, in fact, know your shit, duck-wise:
I’m still searching for the manufacturer of my favorite rubber duck. Every few years the ducks show up in stores again (the last time I saw one was around 2008), but I’ve never been able to learn their origin. Here’s a bit of a back story about this duck (some info I’ve posted before, some is new):
In 1977, a toy company called Knickerbocker created a new toy called Ernie’s Rubber Duckie. Designed by famous toy inventor Henry Orenstein (patent USD260915), this toy would lay the foundation for one of the most iconic rubber ducks in history. In 1983, Knickerbocker was sold to Hasbro; which produced more of the ducks around 1985 through Playskool. Around that time, a Taiwanese factory got a hold of this toy and started creating generic knockoffs of it. By 1992, Playskool discontinued production of their rubber duck, but the Taiwanese factory continued on. Every few years, this anonymous factory produced replicas which would appear in toy stores across the United States.
If you have one of these, feel free to check the bottom and I guarantee you’ll find the “Made in Taiwan”. They seem to all come from one source, yet I have never been able to track them down. My dream is to some day discover where they’re made and start my own store for them.
Edit: I want to thank all the people who have tried looking for me! Unfortunately, the search goes on. Several people have found very similar ducks, the closest probably being the Bath and Body Works ducks or this knockoff of the knockoff which is from China and is significantly lower quality.
Duck porn is a thing not limited to /u/fuckswithducks:
Thanks for doing an AMA! I have a more general question about Brazzers. In Wet Dreams! with Dani Jensen (2012), I noticed that you included a rubber duck in the shoot. In Splash Time with Jenna Ross (2013), you used 3 of the same duck. Does Brazzers have its own permanent prop collection? If so, can we get a tour and see some of the interesting things you’ve collected to use in videos over the years? I’m curious because you reuse the same rubber duck and I have seen other studios reuse other rubber ducks as well (for example, Bangbros reused this one 12)
But just because some porn companies recognize the erotic use of rubber ducks does not mean they make it easy for the average duck perv:
The generic video titles (e.g. “[Pornstar] rides huge dick”, “young bedroom solo”) and descriptions which are clearly copy/paste jobs. They make it really difficult to find porn when you’re searching for specific things. Really the only way to find porn with rubber ducks is to search for “bath” and then scroll through all the thumbnails for one. Plenty of porn videos set entirely in the bathroom won’t even mention it in the title/description, though. It’s simple SEO, people!
A fetish collection of rubber duckies can have a practical use as well, like for when your girlfriend takes up too much space in bed:
Came here to say this. There are plenty of passive-aggressive ways to win your space back. Personally, I like to stack rubber ducks on my girlfriend until she moves.
And sexual appreciation doesn’t always have to be about the ducks:
Author: Edited by Hollister Kopp, foreword by Jim Goad
Type of Book: Non-fiction, ‘zines
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Because it made me remember with fondness the old Loompanics Catalogue.
Availability: Published by Nine Banded Books in 2013, you can get a copy here:
Comments: So, I read this a long time ago and somehow forgot to discuss it, which is a shame because I found it to be a funny and at times uncomfortable blast from the past. I never read this ‘zine in its original format so this was entirely new to me even as it reminded me of the more humorous excesses of the old Loompanics catalogue and a bit of Paladin Press’ more gunnish releases. God, I really miss the old days sometimes, wherein if you wanted to obtain and read really fucked up books you had to peruse a paper list of books that got mailed to your house and really alarmed postal officials. I mean, I don’t miss it over much because it’s nice to hear about a book and be able to buy it immediately but sometimes I realize half the people reading here have only ever ordered outre books online and don’t remember the heady thrill of renting a post office box at a mail drop and ordering books that Focus on the Family insisted were occult and Satanic and also evil. (Remind me to tell you all my “James Dobson mistook me for someone else and touched my arm twitch” story some day.)
Back to the book. 1994. What a time for all of us who were alive! I graduated from college and started dating Mr Oddbooks. OJ Simpson captivated us all as he engaged in a low speed chase in that white Ford Bronco. Nancy Kerrigan got hit in the knee. And Hollister Kopp edited this ‘zine. This is a messed up ‘zine – completely politically incorrect, verging into outright sociopathy, and, in its own bizarre way, it is glorious.
Don’t get me wrong. You all know that I am so liberal I should probably go straight to jail for stealing all your tax money to give to lesbian welfare crack babies. I don’t get into racist propaganda and racial epithets make me nervous because I’m not wholly sure what my own ethnic background contains and what I do know is Irish and that’s almost never a good sign amongst Americans. But I am also a pro-2A liberal. We are rare, like white tigers, but unlike unicorns we really do exist. I’m not a gun fag, like the editor of the ‘zine. And I really don’t miss the days when Mr Oddbooks would drag me to gun shows and I would end up listening to John Birchers explain to me why it is that blacks and women should never have been permitted to vote and that things went straight to hell after we started putting fluoride in the water, but there is something refreshing reading something so utterly unimpressed by basically everything that makes me who I am.
As we all know, Internet killed the Xerox-zine star. I know the world seems really nuts because we have access to so much insanity online, but back in the old days you had to seek it out and when you found it you were less inclined to complain about it. Were these zines online, the comments would have to be disabled. I think part of the refreshing element of reading this zine compilation was the realization that I would not be expected, culturally, to engage in an argument when I was finished. That having been said, this is an extremely hyperbolic collection. A lot of really offensive content got crammed into three editions, and if you can’t embrace the weird when it is offensive, you will want to give this book and the rest of my discussion a miss.
Mr Oddbooks and I had a moment at a recent book sale wherein we both agreed we needed to buy a specific book because of a letter he had found inside of it. It was a coffee table book about sailing vessels (Mr Oddbooks is ex-Navy and longs for the coast like I long for the desert and here we both are in Austin) and was not particularly unique – he already had many books similar to this one. But the letter inside pulled us to buy it. The letter seemed as important as the book, if not more important, and as long as this book remains in our collection, that letter will remain inside the book, just as we found it.
I realized how often we both do this – purchase a book because something left in the book calls to us. I’ve come to think of this tendency as “biblio-sentimentality.” I have no idea how many books we have currently that we acquired due to our combined biblio-sentimentality, but I think I am going to record some of them here. I have to think others are like this, buying books because they feel an emotional connection to them due to marks and items left in the book. Perhaps others will enjoy seeing these books. Perhaps this is just more of my extremely indulgent blogging style. If so, no harm, but I can say that I would love to see any books you fine readers may have that you purchased due to biblio-sentimentality. Feel free to include pictures in comments!
I divide biblio-sentimentality into three categories: inscriptions, marginalia, and ephemera. Inscriptions, of course, are messages to a gift recipient or from the author, written generally on a title page, but could be included somewhere else in the book. Marginalia refers to notes about the text written in the blank margins of books, but it can also include highlighting or underscoring text. Ephemera refers to items found in the book that were not meant to be permanently left in the book, like letters, cards, bookmarks and similar.
In this entry I’m going to share some of our examples of biblio-sentimental ephemera, since this discussion was inspired by the sailing vessel book with the letter in it, and it seems fitting that I should begin with that book.
Mr Oddbooks found this at a huge Half-Price Books warehouse sale. He really does have dozens of similar books but when the letter fell out of this book, he immediately read it and then put the book in our cart. A woman fighting for sobriety left this letter to herself in a coffee table book about sailing ships. Though it is unlikely anyone would be able to identify her through this letter, I redacted her name anyway. This was a rescue ephemera – this letter seems very important to me, a woman with my own addiction demons. It was unusual that this woman placed this letter in such a book – was she using the book as a make-shift lap desk? Did she think this large book was the best place to keep such a letter since huge books about sailing vessels aren’t usually the types of books most read in the average home?
It worries me that she forgot about the letter in this book, or that there is a worse reason that this letter was left behind in a book, like she lost her possessions in an eviction. Or maybe she worked the steps and is clean and has no need to remember this letter. Regardless, it seemed callous to both of us to leave this book with this letter behind. It needed to be saved and kept. It seems very important to me even if I don’t know exactly why, outside of the shared experience of addiction.