Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Unofficially done...

I worked through to the end of OT, today...and the last three chapters need more work before I call it quits on this draft. They get way too convoluted and don't quite jibe with what comes before. But I am happier with the story. It's getting cleaner and clearer...I think. I hope.

Once done, I went down to get my mail, and a copy of Simone de Beauvoir's The Blood of Others arrived...shoved into my small metal postal box. It irritated me because it was not only hard to get out but showed complete disrespect for books. But...what's good is, it sparked a moment in my brain for the novelization of The Alice 65. So here's Adam thinking back on working in his father's London book shop when he was a teenager.
He remembered a book arriving in the post, one day. A copy of the Pantheon paperback edition of Simone de Beauvoir's The Blood of Others. It came in a loose plasticized wrapper, folded at one end and taped closed. He had to use scissors to cut it open. Out came a slightly oversized book in soft gray-brown covers, the edges worn, the spine cracked straight down the middle and with a small tear where OD and O had been in the title. It was over 20 years old, so he supposed the condition was not to be unexpected...but still, it had not been well-cared-for.

He carefully opened the book to find the pages yellowed with age and occasional writing in the margins. In ink! Without thinking, he murmured, "Philistines." The top still held hints of the dust that had accumulated, and a small stain whispered over the area nearest the spine. Hardly the good condition promised by the seller; more like acceptable, at best. But still, he cradled the book in his hands like the finest of the fine.

The shop was quiet, at the moment, so he cleaned his glasses, set aside the pile of papers his father had left for him to sort through, and researched the book on-line. Not much showed up.

When his father returned from the auction, Adam showed him the book. The older man looked through it and sighed, "I asked him to send us a sample of the best ones, and this is all that came?"

Adam nodded. "I've checked on ABE and they seem to believe it's worth about two or three pounds."

"What do you think of it?"

"Whoever's owned it, they were not book people. University student, maybe? Reading it for a course? I've never read de Beauvoir...but this makes me want to."

"How so?"

"The way bits have been removed from the cover, as if to hide what it truly is. Makes me curious. And the cover photo -- the young woman in clothes that appear modern, her hair cut short, while the man seems dressed from a hundred years ago. The poster in the background reading 1941. None of it matches, and is quite intriguing."

"Would you buy it for the shop?"

"Dunno. I might. We don't have any de Beauvoir. I might even buy it for myself."

Mr. Verlain smiled and handed the book back to Adam. "Did he ever mention the number of books he had?"

"His list carried seventy-eight titles, Twentieth Century, all, but I think some are multiple volume so I'd say the total number is more like a hundred to a hundred and five."

"I doubt we'd sell this for more than a couple of quid, but write him back and let him know we'll take the lot for sixty pounds if he'll ship them to us. He may not want to spend the money."

"Don't you think they'll be worth the price, Da'?"

"A book is worth whatever you're willing to pay for it."

Adam nodded. "If I remember right, one of his e-mails said he'd be in London, next week. He could drop them off, then."

"That would be best. Perhaps something else in his library will intrigue you."

"You mind if I do read this one?"

"Of course not. Ask your mother about Simone de Beauvoir. Her answer might surprise you."

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