Alice called me during a book festival signing last Saturday and asked a rather pointed question — “Are you bringing home more books than you took to sell?” Her concern, driven by the need for more bookshelves, neither began nor ended two weeks ago but that is a good point in time to start.
Two weeks ago Andrew Finkelstein invited me home to dinner with his wife (renewed acquaintance) and daughters (brand new for me). To not talk about law we talked about travels, ideas, interests, languages, a perfect salon in a lovely home with a gracious family. The conversation turned to Amsterdam, to the Anne Frank house and, finally, to the Resistance Museum, a museum that was life-changing for me and for Alice. At the moment, Finkelstein fille slipped away from the table and returned with the loan of The Book Thief, by Zusak, an incredible novel of a German girl whose adoptive family resists… well, I hope you will read it. I will send it back to Andrew and family any day now, I promise. As I said, it was a loan.
Denys Finch Hatton reportedly said of his books (according to Berkely Cole, telling Karen Blixen), he would not lose a friend over a borrowed book, but one of his borrowers had lost one. I say bad form. I have both a borrower and a lender been. Thus, to my friends who have lent these, I promise to finish and return them:
Marc, The Power of One, Body and Soul, and The Children’s Book by Byatt (signed and unread!). To Kathie, So Great A Heritage (a swap, actually). To Patrick, Taulus, A French Autobiography. To Stewart, Inside the Sky (a swap loan, for The Book Shop). To Dan, No Better Place to Die. To Russell, Running Across Countries. To Tom, The War of Art. And to Keith, Cellini, Autobiography. And that is just over the last few weeks.
To my friends from whom a few of those were gifts, I say again, thank you. And to my friends who have my copies of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, A Dance to the Music of Time (Volume 2), The Remains of the Day, A Farewell to Arms, twelve various volumes of the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey-Matarin novels, and The Discovery of Heaven, I say to you “Fear not — I have no idea who you are, hope honestly that you enjoy them, and tell you frankly that I have no idea what else is missing.”
So, thank you for the books, but thank you more for the friendship. The books on loan will make their way back, but the friendship I want to keep.
PS: French Letters — the sequel: Bart Sullivan was last seen in the back seat of the green sedan. Are you wondering what became of him? Of Sheriff Hoskins? Whether Shirley will become worthy of Hoyt?
Time will tell. Soon. — J