Friday, March 25, 2005

“No harm ever came from reading a book.”

The Movie: The Mummy, 1999 (Stephen Sommers, screenplay, from the 1932 screenplay by John L. Balderston; Stephen Sommers, dir.)
Who says it: Rachel Weisz as librarian/archeologist Evelyn Carnahan
The context: Evelyn is reading the Book of the Dead, which calls the mummy back to life.
How to use it: To defend your choice of reading material.

Maybe no harm ever came from reading a book, but I have assembled five bookcases in the last 48 hours, and I can tell you that storing books is a dangerous business. What's a little scary is that I left half my books behind when I moved from Washington to Los Angeles, and culled the collection by at least a quarter when I left Los Angeles. They breed.

Making a virtue of necessity this week, I read short stories, reread an old favorite, and read an installment of a series I like. Nothing too challenging. In order read, here's this week's list:

G.H. Ephron, Delusion. I sold books at the launch party for the latest book in this series, Guilt, for Kate over the weekend, and realized I hadn't read the most recent installment. I like this series because I always learn something from it. The protagonist, Peter Zak, is a forensic neuropsychologist, and each book focuses on a different psychiatric disorder. I'm the only person I know who has episodes of hypochondria when reading about mental illness. This book's about paranoia. Got a problem with that?

Otto Penzler (ed.), Dangerous Women. A collection of short stories by 17 crime fiction writers, including Elmore Leonard and Joyce Carol Oates (who writes very creepy crime fiction as Rosamond Smith). Collections like these are often uneven, but almost all of the stories here are very strong. My favorite was Laura Lippman's "Dear Penthouse Forum (A First Draft)," about a pickup that is not at all what it seems to be -- horrifying and viciously funny. (I don't know Laura Lippman except as fan/bookseller to author, but she was very nice to Dizzy -- this would win her bonus points, if Dizzy could read, but she doesn't need them.)

Walker Percy, The Moviegoer. Just got this reread before the end of Lent. Every time I read it, something new catches my attention. This time, it was a paragraph early on, when Binx is talking about how his life is different from his old friends': "And there I have lived ever since, solitary and in wonder, wondering day and night, never a moment without wonder... I can't go to the trouble they go to. It is distracting, and not for five minutes will I be distracted from the wonder."

1 comment:

Aldo said...

I'm working my way through DANGEROUS WOMEN right now. I think that it is a pretty even selection of stories. I liked Laura's story too; provacative title for the adolescent male in me, lol.

As for the book cases, I'm up to 5,000 handbacks, scattered throughout the house. Tina has mentioned more and more lately, it's me or those damn books. Seriously, I need to find a different way or open an eBay account and let a few go. I will, however, continue to collect the rare first editions and limiteds from Dennis McMillan, BE Trice, Hill House, etc.

So, no harm from reading, nah. Only if a bookshelf falls on you.