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The S Word

First batch of books from storage

While sitting in my apartment all weekend (please don’t make me use the S word) I had time to sort through the first few batches of books that my mom has started sending in padded envelopes from my 15 or so boxes that I left in storage over a decade ago in Portland. She has downsized from a decent sized mobile home in the suburbs to a smaller version (I’ve yet to see) at the coast. She’s not retired, it’s just a change.

I’d forgotten how many books I used to own and how much shopping for them was a regular part of my life. I’d scour used book stores, junk and thrift shops on a weekly basis. I’m not sure if the fact that I haven’t performed that task in years is a function of NYC simply not providing enough of these shopping venues or if times have changed all around and everyone just sells on eBay now (even my mom had a little online bookselling business for a spell, or maybe she still does, I’m not sure).

I prefer the serendipity of finding say, a copy of Keyboard magazine with Nick Rhodes on the cover (Arcadia era, not Duran Duran) stuffed in a pile for a dollar. I’m never going to search for that online, pay even that same dollar (which would be an unlikely minimum) plus shipping. That’s a dollar gem, nothing more.

I’m waiting for the cookbooks and pamphlets to show up, so far the bounty falls into categories like 20th century sex ed/dating, pulp fiction with lascivious covers, folklore and coloring and activity books. In the early ‘90s I kept my eye on these genres for art project fodder (I majored in printmaking). Later I xeroxed found illustrations for zine clip art.

I don’t do anything with them now, though I can’t bear to part with this ephemera despite a lack of shelving. I don’t want them to get lost for another ten years either. So, I’m going to talk about these most uncollectable paper items from time to time whether or not it’s of any interest to anyone. The Big John, Little John coloring book? Come on, that's brilliant.

I did have the intention of writing about young adult books and created the I Kid You Not tag for that purpose at the beginning of 2007. But I’m not single minded enough to ever write about any one topic with enough passion, persistence and gravitas to stand out in any way. That’s why I was wowed earlier this year when I read about the Jezebel blogger who got a book deal as a result of her column about YA lit.

And subsequently, I read the single funniest sentence ever on Gawker in reference to it:

“I guess there probably aren’t a lot of bloggers, blog-editors and freelance writers sitting around thinking ‘I am the perfect person to write a collection of nostalgic pieces about classic young adult novels, but she gets to do it and I don’t! Bitch!’”

Well, you know…there might be one or two. Just speculating. It never would’ve occurred to me in ten million years that you could get a book deal for analyzing kids books from the perspective of someone who came of age in the ‘80s. Never. And that’s why I’m staycaytioning over Labor Day weekend instead of living the good life.

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  1. There was a Big John Little John coloring book? Did that show last more than four episodes?

    I can still sing the theme song. Oh Robbie Rist…where are you now?

    September 2, 2008
  2. bill p: yeah, and apparently there were 13 episodes and ran from September 11, 1976-September 3, 1977. The weird thing is that I remember watching this on TV but I would’ve only been four. Must’ve been reruns. Robbie Rist has 6,659 “friends” on MySpace. Urgh, I was trying to go to bed early last night then got all obsessed looking up Robbie Rist…

    lisa: I almost spewed when I ripped open the padded envelope and saw the cover. The funny thing is that I have zero recollection of ever buying that coloring book.

    September 3, 2008

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