Tuesday's my favorite day! It's the day of new releases! If I'm not mistaken, James Salter's new novel, All That Is (Knopf), is newly available, although I cannot bring up James Salter without mentioning his most amazing novel, Light Years, one of my favorite marriage novels (right up there with Paula Fox's Desperate Characters), and may I recommend the North Point Press edition of Light Years, of which the Blue Room has two copies. North Point Press, I miss you!
Before I forget: Jay Ponteri here, author of Wedlocked (Hawthorne Books), confessed bibliophile, embedded in the Blue Room of Powell's, blogging on Powells.com about the Powell's experience.
Powell's opens at 9 a.m., and around 9:30, the Blue Room booksellers roll out the fiction and poetry carts for shelving. Imagine the home team coming out from the locker room onto the court to an ecstatic crowd of fans. To see all of the new books together — like a new employee orientation? — before being shelved, before mixing in with all of the other books, the new Dara Wier (You Good Thing) finding a comfy spot next to Dara Wier's Selected Poems, or the new Armantrout (Just Saying) cozying up to a used copy of John Ashbery's April Galleons, perhaps emitting cozy aesthetic signals a few shelves over to Michael Burkard's selected poems, Envelope of Night, which is trying but failing to ignore (the way one avoids an extremely gregarious person at a reception) the poetry anthology directly across from it, Poems for Weddings.
Getting here early, I can grab the cleanest copy of whatever new book after which I've been pining. Anne Carson's Red Doc>. Charles Simic's New and Selected Poems: 1962-2012. The NYRB reissue of Renata Adler's Speedboat.
With any book I buy, the dust jacket or paper cover should have stiff, unbent corners, free of dust and dirt or inadvertent slices made by the box cutters the fine folks in Shipping and Receiving wield to open and unpack cartons. If you are a Blue Room employee, you have probably seen me sorting through new, faced-out copies of the same title to find the cleanest copy!
As a very, very responsible book owner, I do not bend the corners of covers and dust jackets. I realize this is all illusion upkeep — my desire to be eternal — but at least I recognize the illusion to the extent I can laugh to myself at myself while fastidiously brushing box dust off the white cover of Mary Ruefle's Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures.
I'm a "peeper," which means as I read, I don't open the book's boards too widely so as not to crack the book's spine. I open the book only slightly. From another reader-person's perspective, it might look as if I'm peeping into the book, as if something inside might jump out and attack me! My friend Jeremy does a spot-on imitation of me peeping-reading.
I do not write in my books, or if I want to write in a book, I buy an extra copy or a trade paperback copy and mark the Shit Out of It. If you can't keep the book in perfect condition, then you might as well obliterate it beautifully. Reminds me of Lars von Trier's film Melancholia.
My friend and poet Emily Kendal Frey
mentioned to me that poet Anthony Madrid (I Am Your Slave Now Do What I Say) marked up a copy of her stunning book of poems, The Grief Performance, with margin notes and annotations and then mailed it to Emily as a gift.
My current struggle is twofold. One, staying within the agreed-upon book budget (no longer have a credit card), and two, not getting too many copies of a single title.
"What did the SuperFreak just say?" The Close Reader of this blog asks. "Why do you need more than one copy of a single book? You really are fucked up."
OK, perhaps I really am fucked up. (See Wedlocked by Jay Ponteri.)
One copy I give myself permission to bend corners, ruffle, and crease dust jackets. This first copy I call my "reading copy." Second copy is my shelf copy, the pristine copy; of course I won't die, of course I will never age, of course every woman I desire desires me and Kim and Thurston didn't divorce and Mr. Gladstone the pug and Chewbacca the wooky pug will never ever ever ever die.
I can always pull the pristine copy off the shelf and try to reexperience the beauty (the ecstasy!) of holding that clean copy for the first time, whatever Tuesday it was, just after it was published and released.
"But why, my FreakyBaby, do you need more than two pristine copies?"
For example, I own THREE pristine trade paperback copies and TWO pristine hardcover copies of Madness, Rack, & Honey: Collected Lectures by Mary Ruefle (that's in addition to reading copies in both trade paperback and hardcover).
"Would you call this hoarding behavior? Kind of?"
When the apocalypse comes and the Planet Earth loses electricity, when we HUMANS are cut off from all Sources of External Power, all of you Kindle and NOOK people will be FUCKED, and I will be SET UP.
More from Jay Ponteri on PowellsBooks.Blog:
- Let Me Introduce to You: Kevin Sampsell
- May I Recommend to You Some Books to Read?
- Happy April Fools' Day!
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Jay Ponteri directs the undergraduate creative writing program at Marylhurst University and Show: Tell, the Workshop for Teen Writers and Artists. He is the founding editor of both the online literary magazine M Review and HABIT Books. Wedlocked: A Memoir is his first book.
Books mentioned in this post
Jay Ponteri is the author of Wedlocked: A Memoir