Posted tagged ‘injured books’

Cryptic Writings

August 14, 2013

One of the pleasures in hiring a library book is not just in the reading. The book itself has a history as unique as any living being. A cursory glance at the slip where previous lends were due signifies that the novel has had a rich life. Of course, some books by the likes of Ceri Radford, for example, remain on the shelf, unread, unhired, unbrowsed, untouched by human hands. Generally though, most books have departed from the stuffy library into the real world.

And the real world as we all know is as tough as Chingachgook’s feet. A fragile paperback is, to use the Howard the Duck phrase, trapped in a world he never made. Some book readers are harsh folders of a novel. In the nine circles of hell a cracked spine is one of the tortures inflicted on a book. Furthermore, one seriously considers the upbringing of those readers that don’t use bookmarks and instead crease the top of the page. For all that, this general wear and tear is to be expected as the book ages and handlers are less than careful.

What really turns my screw the wrong way is when I find foreign bodies between the covers. I’ve seen what I think is sauce, or is it blood, plastered on various pages of older manuscripts. Is the previous reader having his lunch or a nose bleed? Only the book knows and he’s not for telling. Discoloured and faded pages tell me the book has been in the wars. The worst case of this magnitude was when I neared the end of a nail biter and found a half-eaten barbeque chicken wing stuck to an important paragraph. Although, as you can guess, that last piece was just a bit of magical realism from me.

What prompted this tale was that today I found a note inside the book I hired when I went home. Written on a scrap of paper was the enigmatic handwritten message

14 moving again

call me soon

A crossword clue? A tenant leaving because there’s no room with a view? A CIA invisible ink message written in visible ink by amateur hour spooks? All day long I’ve ignored the book and concentrated on the secret code. I need Robert Langdon to work this out for me.

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