Thursday, November 6, 2008
What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?
Four immediately flew to mind. For my graduation from college, one of my housemates (still a close friend) gave me a second-hand, two volume set of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. They are a large format, hardcover 1943 edition, illustrated, with the text in two columns on the page, pictured above. Lovely books, very substantial, curl-up-by-the-fire editions. One of my other housemates gave me my Riverside complete Shakespeare, which I still treasure. The third was Sheila's gift to me of Chris van Allsberg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. I loooove this book. It is in a large, children's book format and consists of black and white drawings which are of identifiable things - people, objects, a ship, etc... - but their content is provocatively ambiguous. On the facing page is a single sentence, adding mystery rather than clarity. They are wonderful to read before going to sleep - great dream fodder - but my main use of them has been for various structured improvisation exercises with my acting students over the years. I have traveled everywhere with this book. It's dust jacket is now, well, dust, and the binding is all torn up. A well-loved favorite. Finally, one of the first presents The Ragazzo gave me was a soft-cover copy of Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Flander's Panel, which I think I had already owned but hadn't read. So now, of course, I have two copies. His early mysteries are great fun.