Sunday, April 03, 2011

Books, Books and More Books

When you have to pack up house and move once every three or four years it becomes more and more of a chore. As the years pass you accumulate what George Carlin use to call in his monologue "Stuff". And if you're like I am that stuff runs the gamete from Art to Ziplock bags with miscellaneous nuts and bolts in them. (I thought I was pushing it with that last one so I could do the A to Z thing until I found said ziplock bags in our tool box earlier today!) And before every pack up comes the big "if you haven't used it in the past two years get rid of it" movement.  And it started here yesterday.

Clothing of course make up a good part of the inventory but fortunately my weight loss has made it easier to pick out what will come to Canada with me and what will be left behind.  If it looks like I stole if from my big brother's closet then off to the parish box it goes.  And kitchen and dining "stuff" is not far behind.  Do we really need 5 complete sets of diner service? And if not which ones do we get rid of and how? Do the parish poor really need porcelain finger bowels?  Did we really need porcelain finger bowls????

A work in progress - one of the bookcases has had the first go through - a second more ruthless culling is to come.  The CD collection at the right will be next!

But those choices are as nothing compared to sorting through the CDs and books. Though  CDs do make it easier than it was with vinyl - oh my god what a task that use to be - and with downloads it seems to be becoming even easier.  But the books - there is always the books.  Though I have yet to try it I can see something like Kindle being great for novels but hardly the thing for perusing Allessandro Sanquirico - Designs for Opera in 18th century Italy.  And besides there is something about holding a book in your hands - the feel and smell of the paper - that can't be replaced by plastic.  But books do take up space - lots and lots of space.  So today was "go through and weed out the books" day #1.

In some cases it was easy - that 12 year old guide to Warsaw was now, like many of the attractions it listed, just a curiosity; will I ever reread Harry Potter - I don't think so; the biography of Vincent Massey, of our first Canadian born Governor General - interesting the first time but...   Others were more of a struggle - do I really want to keep all of Donna Leon's murder mysteries - yes! Alexander McCall Smith's No 1 Lady Detective series - no!  And so it goes - separating literary wheat from chaff, knowing full well that my chaff may be someone else's bread and butter.  Hmm bit of a mixed metaphor but I'm sure you get my meaning.  Fortunately there is an English library at Santa Susana where all books are welcome. And at least one friend wants to see what we have before we give them away.

The book I have had the longest - Milton Cross's Complete Stories of the Great Operas. A Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law in 1956.  Worn, torn, well-thumbed and used as recently as two months ago as research for a review.
And of course there are some books that I'll never give away - the complete Lucia novels by E.F. Benson which I reread with great delight every two or three years; anything by Jan Morris (thank you David!); and the book that has been in my library the longest:  The New Milton Cross Complete Stories of the Great Operas.  I found it under the tree Christmas morning 1956 - a gift from my brother Albert and my sister-in-law Gloria.  I would think I owe it mostly to Gloria who obviously caught on real early that her 10 year old brother-in-law was an budding opera queen obsessed with opera.  The spine is ripped, its a bit tattered, stained by a hot coffee cup, marred by attempts to copy Maria Callas's eyes using Teresa next door's eyebrow pencil and the pages are that gray-yellow that bespeak its 55 years of being carted around the world.  Anyone who listened to the Metropolitan Opera Radio Broadcasts knew Milton Cross - he was the voice of opera in America from 1931 until his death in 1975.  Every Saturday afternoon during the season he welcomed us into box 44 at the old house until 1966 and then the broadcast booth at Lincoln Centre; described the action, the sets and during the curtain calls the costumes - Mme Milanov in a flame red dress with gold accents .... I'm not sure Mme Milanov ever wore anything but flame red?

At the time I received it I believed that Mr Cross had written all 76 stories by himself - after all he was Mr Opera!  Of course he was merely the editor but whoever did write it - probably a committee effort - did so with a good grasp of the music,  a great sense of the dramatic, attention to detail and never talked down to the reader - unlike not a few books of the genre.  And though I may know some of the stories by heart it still serves as a great reference and a good read.  It won't be going to any ex-pat library anytime soon.

In the meantime 35 of the "chafe" have found a new home when our friend Cindi came over this afternoon to "just take a look".   Next - the CDS!

03 aprile - San Riccardo di Chichester

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laurent said...

I always wondered what those eyes were on the book jacket, now I know. As for the finger bowls, yes there was a time we needed them.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

What a huge job! I don't envy you that aspect.

Elaine :) said...

Robert and I have been lugging boxes of books, some prior to our life together...we are coming on 10years and the goal was to get rid of a large part of them. Then the kids we carry their books too! What is it with our attachments to books?? On my list of things to do...get rid of books before next move (which will happen before I know it!) One book at a time dear friend! Elaine :)

Doralong said...

Don't be silly, of course you need finger bowls. Really Wills...