Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Does this work?

I'm back to vacillating between first and third person on does this work? Is it interesting? Is it too on-the-nose? Does it set the story up? I honestly can't tell, right now.


The Alice '65 is one of the rarest books in the world. It was from the very first print run of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and entered into the world of rarity when Sir John Tenniel, who had done the illustrations, saw the final result. He had so disliked how his artwork appeared in them, he convinced Lewis Carroll to recall the copies that had been sold, have the printing plates reset and the book reissued. All but fifty were returned and only twenty-four of those are known to still exist, so normally it would be a bibliophile's dream to be asked to fly to Los Angeles and return to London with a copy of the book that was meant to be a part of his university's collection.

But Adam Verlain did not want to go. To begin with, he disliked leaving London; it was civilized, easy to get around in and he liked the world he occupied. What reason could there ever be to leave it?

And then there was how his area of expertise was Fifteenth to Eighteenth Century works of literature and philosophy. It would have made far more sense to send Elizabeth Pascal, a lovely woman who worked in the next cubicle and whose focus was 19th and 20th century works. She wasn't quite what one would call a book person, yet, but had the makings.

Another possibility would have been for Vincent Bergerin, the head of the Research department, to make the journey. It would have made more sense, since he had been angling to bring one into the university's fold for decades. But then ... he was old and frail, like a Victorian ghost, so the trip might have been too much for him.

Of course, there was also the fact that a copy of this book inadvertently got Adam's father killed, so he wanted nothing to do with it. Had he but known this was where Monday would lead ... well, he had a month of sick days coming to him, and he'd have taken every one of them to avoid being trapped into it.

Naturally, the day had started out normal enough. He had finished the provenance on a rebound copy of Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, in Latin, which had been presented to King Victor Emmanuel not long before the Third Italian War for Independence, in 1866. There had been indications the book was first given to Pope Pius IX on his selection to the papacy, twenty years earlier, and he had spent a week trying to confirm it, which cause him some difficulty with his boss.

"We've a hundred other books to archive," Vincent had said, "and you spend five days on one inconsequential volume?"

Granted, the book was bound in a plain speckled calf and a bit worn, yet it was still in fine condition and the possibility of it being linked to two famous men was of some importance, so he had snapped back with, "Sir, no book is inconsequential."

Which had jolted Vincent into a ramrod posture and brought out the worst of his Oxford attitude as he snarled, "Nor is this one more consequential than any others on the cart, so be done with it."

So Adam wrapped the book up, that morning, not completely satisfied but still taking no end of pleasure in doing the fullest provenance on it. Then to placate Vincent, he worked on a copy of Erasmus' Morais Enkomion, which had been sitting on the incoming cart for over a week because it was in Greek and no one else wanted to touch it. He was done by three, half an hour prior to a meeting Vincent had arranged with him. He knew this would soothe the older man's huffy nerves.
It just seems a bit impersonal to me...but it's proving to be the easiest way into a decent opening chapter for the story.

Any comments?

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