No, books. She would have maybe twenty going at a time, lying all over our house--on the kitchen table, by her bed, the bathroom, our car, her bags, a little stack at the edge of each stair. And she'd use anything she could find for a bookmark. My missing sock, an apple core, her reading glasses, another book, a fork.
She read her way around the library, hungry for journeys, adventures, laughter and passion. She took each new book to bed like a lover, savouring every chapter, going too far some nights until the letters danced like insects and she was groggy next day at work. But still she'd sneak away for lunchtime trysts, her eager fingers fumbling for the bookmark.
Besides, what was more perfect an object than a book? The different rags of paper, smooth or rough under your fingers. The edge of the page pressed into your thumbprint as you turned a new chapter. The way your bookmark -fancy, modest, scrap paper, candy wrapper -moved through the width of it, marking your progress, a little further each time you folded it shut.
If you had to pack your whole life into a suitcase-not just the practical things, like clothing, but the memories of the people you had lost and the girl you had once been-what would you take? The last photograph you had of your mother? A birthday gift from your best friend-a bookmark embroidered by her? A ticket stub from the traveling circus that had come through town two years ago, where you and your father held your breath as jeweled ladies flew through the air, and a brave man stuck his head in the mouth of a lion? Would you take them to make wherever you were going feel like home, or because you needed to remember where you had come from?
But if Miss Golightly remained unconscious of my existence, except as a doorbell convenience, I became, through the summer, rather an authority on hers. I discovered, from observing the trash-basket outside her door, that her regular reading consisted of tabloids and travel folders and astrological charts; that she smoked an esoteric cigarette called Picayunes; survived on cottage cheese and Melba Toast; that her vari-colored hair was somewhat self-induced. The same source made it evident that she received V-letters by the bale. They were torn into strips like bookmarks. I used occasionally to pluck myself a bookmark in passing. Remember and miss you and rain and please write and damn and goddamn were the words that recurred most often on these slips; those, and lonesome and love.
He loved physical books with the same avidity other people loved horses or wine or prog rock. He'd never really warmed to ebooks because they seemed to reduce a book to a computer file, and computer files were disposable things, things you never really owned. He had no emails from ten years ago but still owned every book he bought that year. Besides, what was more perfect an object than a book? The different rags of paper, smooth or rough under your fingers. The edge of the page pressed into your thumbprint as you turned a new chapter. The way your bookmark - fancy, modest, scrap paper, candy wrapper - moved through the width of it, marking your progress, a little further each time you folded it shut.
Last night, Good Friday night, at the bottom of the escalator at King's X tube, a weasel-faced man in uniform was sweeping up rubbish with a wide broom, drink cartons, cigarette packets with all the dust and filthy scraps of the day which he pushed towards an elegant long black glove that was lying there. I expected him to pick it up as I would have - I thought of picking it up, but was too late. He smothered it in a wide sweep. It seemed to me extraordinary and shocking that he had no feeling for it. Several images went through my mind, a symbolic hand, a dead blackbird, an ornamental bookmark fallen from a lectern Bible - any once-precious relic being tumbled in the dirt. As I went up the escalator I remembered the Tatterdemallion whom I haven't seen for months and thought of his body, if he were to die in the tube, being tumbled about with the rest of the thrown-away rubbish.' David Thomson, In Camden Town
Marginalia Sometimes the notes are ferocious, skirmishes against the author raging along the borders of every page in tiny black script. If I could just get my hands on you, Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O'Brien, they seem to say, I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head. Other comments are more offhand, dismissive - Nonsense." "Please!" "HA!!" - that kind of thing. I remember once looking up from my reading, my thumb as a bookmark, trying to imagine what the person must look like who wrote "Don't be a ninny" alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson. Students are more modest needing to leave only their splayed footprints along the shore of the page. One scrawls "Metaphor" next to a stanza of Eliot's. Another notes the presence of "Irony" fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal. Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers, Hands cupped around their mouths. Absolutely, " they shout to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin. Yes." "Bull's-eye." "My man!" Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points rain down along the sidelines. And if you have managed to graduate from college without ever having written "Man vs. Nature" in a margin, perhaps now is the time to take one step forward. We have all seized the white perimeter as our own and reached for a pen if only to show we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages; we pressed a thought into the wayside, planted an impression along the verge. Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria jotted along the borders of the Gospels brief asides about the pains of copying, a bird singing near their window, or the sunlight that illuminated their page- anonymous men catching a ride into the future on a vessel more lasting than themselves. And you have not read Joshua Reynolds, they say, until you have read him enwreathed with Blake's furious scribbling. Yet the one I think of most often, the one that dangles from me like a locket, was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye I borrowed from the local library one slow, hot summer. I was just beginning high school then, reading books on a davenport in my parents' living room, and I cannot tell you how vastly my loneliness was deepened, how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed, when I found on one page A few greasy looking smears and next to them, written in soft pencil- by a beautiful girl, I could tell, whom I would never meet- Pardon the egg salad stains, but I'm in love.