Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I sat by the pool to eat lunch, and it was warm but not viciously so, not like Houston would be. The house it belongs to is Mediterranean-style...narrow and tall, with the main living on the first floor up. This is the kind of home where books are not furniture but have a purpose. Some old. Some new. All meaningful.

The beauty of working on a library like this is, you're reminded of the tradition of writing and the exchanges of ideas that were happening long before you were born...and how many of those ideas are still being debated today. Like how to deal with poverty (called pauperism in many of these books) and juvenile crime and even birth control (from 100 years ago).

Some questioned the morality of religion during a time when God was far more real than he is now. One man sold his house so he could finance the publication of a sociology book he knew would change the world...and I could not tell you his name, right now. There's a book by Anthony Trollope's mother, Frances, about her travels across what was the US in the 1830s, something that supposedly gave de Tocqueville his idea to look into democracy and Americans, thanks to her fun descriptions of the people she met. It's called "The Domestic Manners of the Americans" and I actually ordered a copy to read.

So I took my break by the pool, outside of the books, and let the whole idea of them soak in. I'm not the smartest or best educated guy in the world; a lot of what ability I have in English comes from reading, as does what I know of history. I got little of it in formal education. I've worked around books most of my life and even so, I'm barely knowledgeable about them. But I'm pretty sure my awareness is above average when it comes to knowing about the history of writing...and yet there was so much I just did not know, until today.

I saw tiny pamphlets about how we'll live in the future that had been published by major houses like Putnam and Holt, Reinhardt. Not just one but several. I saw a couple hundred different books that had been published by the author and apparently sold quite well.

These are the kinds of libraries I love packing. Lately, all I've been packing are okay books dealing with military history or art or sets of writers I'm too familiar with. This week...this job...I feel as if I'm in a warm embrace, again.

Doesn't hurt that there's also a couple of massively fluffy cats who want to supervise my progress and force me to pet them, every now and then. When I get back to the office, those two kitties're gonna be so pissed.

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