06 October 2007

Adolescence in Boxes


I'm in Memphis visiting my parents, helping to take care my of dad who just returned home from a two week hospital stay following a diagnosis of congestive heart failure following a heart attack. Physically he is very weak, and it hasn't quite set in (to him) just how seriously he is. It is difficult to see him in this state. He has a three page list of meds to take, he must follow a strict low sodium diabetic diet with serious portion control. He's so weak he has trouble walking from the chair to the kitchen or to the bathroom, and he's sleeping in the mother-in-law-suite downstairs on a rented adjustable hospital bed until he is able to go upstairs. If you read back far enough on this blog, you can guess that his heart attack was inevitable. In December I figured he'd have one within 2 years given how poorly he managed his diabetes and took care of himself. It is what it is. It happened, maybe it will be a wakeup call, maybe not. And here I am with Ingrid until Wednesday.

My parents don't throw away anything, and their house is so big, it hasn't yet hit critical mass with all the stuff. They've never had a tag sale in the 38 years they've been together. The last time I was here the (walk in) closets practically burst with clothes and junk. So my mom recently boxed up some of the junk and sent it to the attic. This means she boxed up 24 years of my crap. So much crap. I went through some of it looking for scary dolls. I found a couple, but not the one I had in mind. I did come across oodles of books and other strange things from my adolescence and early college. Some of the highlights: my skate board, clothes from my thrift store phase, an awesomely hot black lace corset, notebooks, sketchbooks, and one handmade book of poems and photographs that is so raw and painful to read it makes my stomach ache just thinking about the night I created it. And the poetry is bloody awful! I've only been able to read a few lines here and there. Talk about dark night of the soul. I must have been drunk or high or something that night, even though I remember it like it was last week. It was 15 years ago. I want to bring it home so I can burn it and give it a proper burial.

My mom and I are bookworms. You find books in every single room of this house, including the bathrooms and kitchen. There are even books in the garage. My mom actually has a library. This is one of the things I love about snooping though my parents' house. If I'm not careful I could replace the clothes in my suitcase with books. I have several titles that I'm bringing home to use to finish the revisions of the next edition of Steal Away Jordan (which I'm working on while I'm here when I'm not helping out with my dad's care). I also have a bunch of beloved books from decades gone by. Here are some of the gems I'm packing up in a box to send back with me. Some of these I'm bringing back for their 1950-60's pulp covers:
Black Women for Beginners, Saundra Sharp (for more books on antebellum life check the Stone Baby Games website in the next few days.
A Fairly Honourable Defeat, Iris Murdoch.
Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges.
The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, retold by Joseph Bedier. (with cool cover, not like the one in the link)
The Dream Merchants, Harold Roberts.
The Mesh, Lucie Marchal.
Missing Time, Budd Hopkins.
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler (wicked cool tawdry cover! Not the one in the link.)
The Problem of the Wire Cage, John Dickson Carr. (another tawdry pulp cover)
Missing Time, Budd Hopkins.
Skin and Bones, Thorne Smith (yet another awesome cover, same as the one in the link!)
Sin Doll, Orrie Hitt ("The only way Cherry could get places was by going bad...and cherry wanted to get places! A novel which focuses in on the hot picture racket--boldly revealing how girls are recruited--and why!" And then there's the cover!)
Primitive Orgy, Bob Tralins ("'There is only one way to get the evil spirit out of my body!' she moaned...." see the awesome pulp cover in the link.)
The Big Sky, A.B. Guthrie, jr.
A Story of Deep Delight, Thomas McNamee (autographed even!)
A Victorian era three volume collection of the works of William Shakespeare.
The 1887 edition of Cyclopaedia of Obstetrics and Gynecology, volume III (Obstetrics : The Pathology of Labor)
The complete score of A. Maillart's, Les Dragons de Villars (from around the mid-late 1800's as far as I can tell)

3 comments:

joshua said...

A Fairly Honourable Defeat sounds horrible. If it's a well-written book, it sounds even worse.

Also, I chafe at the use of "Machiavellian" in that sense. Oh, man! You should totally read The Discourses.

Borges is so great. It's one of my great regrets that I returned a book of his stories to my brother having only read one or two. At least I know whose toilet to find them on.

I've got some thing by Budd Hopkins around somewhere, I think. I was really into that jazz for a while. Did I ever tell you my creepy story?

You've got Budd there twice. Did you perhaps find yourself not remembering all the time you were writing? Having strange dreams about large-eyed animals? Perhaps an unexplained scar?

What does the cover of Skin and Bones have to do with the premise?

Regarding Primitive Orgy: O M G. Is it porn? Or does it make believe it's more respectable somehow?

It looks like you've got some good, bawdy reading ahead of you!

Parthenia said...

Call me shallow, but half of those books I'm bringing home mostly for their covers. They're short enough to read quickly, but I think I bought them for the covers 20 some odd years ago.
The Budd Hopkins book is for Chris.

joshua said...

Covers are there for a reason! They're to get you into it.

I'd read them for the covers, too. There's a 1940s edition of Brave New World that has a picture of a naked man and woman running, I think away from a utopian city. It's the one that got my dad to read it as a teenager, but the event not only never happens in the book, but it's also of specious symbolic value. But it got him to read a really good book, then recommend it to me! A victory for trashy book covers everywhere!

Does Chris have any Zachariah Sitchin or Erich von Daniken?