Monday, August 16, 2010

the last book I ever read

so here's a frustrating mistake I made not all that long ago:

I read the NYTimes' review of Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad written by Astoria resident (at least some times) Will Blythe, and it's strong enough that I reserve NYPL copies for both me and my spouse.
and a couple weeks ago she picks up two books and brings them home and they end up on the floor with the other dozen or so books that I'm intending to read in the very near future.
so a few more days go by and my spouse has made a good start on A Visit from the Goon Squad and I'm, of course, finishing up another book (Michael Lewis' The Big Short) and adding to my NYPL reserve list (including but not limited to authors who will soon be turning 50 years old) and I notice that one copy of A Visit from the Goon Squad is due on August 12th and one is due on August 19th.
now I'm only 30 or so pages in on August 11th with a long list of other things to do that day so there's no way I'm going to finish in time, and I have to go into Manhattan anyway, so we decide that my spouse will finish and then I will take her copy and read it and everything will work out.

except I don't think about the fact that these two books, both owned by the New York Public Library, aren't interchangeable, or that my spouse might actually be in possession of the copy that's due on the 12th and not the 19th.
see, technically the book in my name is due on the 12th and the book in my spouse's name is due on the 19th even though, if I'd thought for even half a minute, I would've realized that once the books hit the floor we've got no better than a 50/50 chance that she picks up the book with the later due date.

you know the rest of the story.

"Here was the bottom line: if we human beings are information processing machines, reading X's and O's and translating that information into what people oh so breathlessly call 'experience,' and if I had access to all that same information via cable TV and any number of magazines that I browsed through at Hudson News for four- and five-hour stretches on my free days (my record was eight hours, including the half hour I spent manning the register during the lunch break of one of the younger employees, who thought I worked there) -if I had not only the information but the artistry to shape that information using the computer inside my brain (real computers scared me; if you can find Them, then They can find you, and I didn't want to be found), then, technically speaking, was I not having all the same experiences those other people were having?"

- A Visit from the Goon Squad

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