Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's my grandfather's books that make him feel farthest gone, sitting here on my ordered bookshelves rather than stuck all higgledy-piggledy on his shelves without any organization to speak of. When I was in Florida in January I combed those shelves, picking out the volumes I wanted to keep. People's bookshelves always speak loudly about who they are, and I think I learned more about my grandfather in that afternoon than I did in all the years before it.

Today those books came, and I love the most worn of them, the 1908 O'Henry with the cover falling off, the copy of "Kidnapped" with the spine snapped nearly in two. A Hardy Boys story that I remember stealing to read as a little girl, huddled in the corner of the couch and completely oblivious to everything around me. My great grandfather's copy of "Treasure Island," clearly carried in the pockets of active young boys and often read, all of the text worn off of the outside. Books that were loved, that were a part of my family, that have smudged with ink the sides of hands shot through with blood carrying the same messages as my own.

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