le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Monday, September 10, 2012

oh frabjous day!

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an open letter to the universe, wishing that some very intensely anticipated new books would fall from the sky into my lap. Normally, when I make general requests to the universe, the universe gives me the silent treatment; I chalk this up to either an old family curse, or possibly some kind of ancient relic that I picked up in my travels, a dusty old object that has been cursed by a mummy or zombie or ancient pharaoh or some such.

But this time, the universe responded, in the form of a wonderful woman who emailed me and said "I can send you those books."

Once I got done recovering from whooping with joy, I sent off my mailing address and hoped I wasn't being scammed by a fake sub-saharan prince.

Today, a large parcel was waiting for me by my mailbox, after I came home from a rather discouraging meeting. I was a bit puzzled, because it was a large parcel, and two books are fairly small.
I opened the envelope to a very beautiful (and generous) sight:

I may have danced around my kitchen. I may have actually jumped for joy. I may even have gotten a little teary. I will neither confirm nor deny these things. I feel as if I should handle them while wearing spotless white cotton gloves, the kind museums and libraries insist upon when handling things like the Magna Carta.

BEHOLD!!! the shiny glory of Lish McBride's books!  I have a copy of Hold me Closer, Necromancer, but it's a different edition than the new one - now, having matching covers is unbelievably exciting. They are very hard to photograph - so shiny, so reflecting and refracting all over the place. But I LOVE these covers - they suit the book(s) so well [I am assuming Necromancing the Stone has at least a few things in common with Hold me Closer]. I re-read Hold me Closer this past spring, and when I finished I was, once again, feeling almost physical anticipation and eagerness to find out what happens next. [Yes. I am a huge, huge nerd about books. Very enthusiastic, as my student evaluations often mention].

And then the possibly even more beautiful covers of Catherynne M. Valente's Fairyland books. The picture doesn't do justice to the gorgeous shade of violet on the cover of The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. It's an exquisite cover; the artist for these books (Ana Juan) does wonderful work. Thinking about what could be in this second Fairyland book gives me shivers.
Not only did I receive the new book, I was also sent a paperback copy (newly in paperback) of the first Fairyland book. I am thrilled about this; I have a hardback copy from teaching, but I've handled it rather gingerly, to keep it tidy. I have to say that, the more I think about it, the more I realize that Fairyland #1 is one of the best books to teach that I've ever taught. I enjoyed the book enormously the first two times I read it, but when I read it with my brain tuned for teaching - and then in actually discussing it in class - the book became almost overwhelmingly amazing and interesting and provocative. There is so much going on in it. I have a conference paper-length idea percolating about the book; we'll see if the second Fairyland alters things.

 Anyway, I'm very fussy about writing in my books. I had to train myself to write in my school books, and it still always hurts a little. Because I only had the one copy of Fairyland #1, I didn't want to mark it up at all - instead, I used sticky flags.

Lots and lots of sticky flags. I supplemented the sticky flags with handwritten reminders on a sheet of paper and some index cards, but the ideas were flying while I prepped for teaching this; really, I should have just flagged every single page. I got quite carried away teaching this book; it set off so many ideas, and made me realize so many things about stories and reading and fantasy and time and memory and nostalgia (some of which are things my dissertation thinks about). I was super-gratified to discover that my students also really enjoyed the book; many of them ended up choosing to write up it for various papers, as well, which made grading a bit less painful than usual.
 And now I have these two much-longed for, much-anticipated books, carefully resting on the cabinet in my study (which I cleaned and polished before setting the books on it, because, as noted above, I am a huge nerd about books). I have class tomorrow & thursday, which means my mind needs to be geared up for Hunger Games, and which also means I need to sleep, so I have to wait until Thursday after class to begin reading these. I know right now I won't do anything else once I begin.

The big problem, of course, the big decision that now faces me:

Which book do I read first?!?!?


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