Friday, September 19, 2014

The Locked Book of Private Information

I was just sitting here thinking how boring and useless it would be if I "blogged" about what I read last night when another storm came up and we lost the satellite signal again, and then I thought, "I'll do it!" At first I was reading Jonathon Green's history of slang but it was too, uh, scholarly to read in a storm. Well, there was one good part where the French poet Villon was "implicated in a murder" and had to "henceforth scrape a living singing in taverns." But pretty soon we were back to statistics and the word "lexis" was in there a lot. So I switched over to THE EASTER PARADE by Richard Yates, which Megan Abbott gave me back when she lived in town and I knew it probably wouldn't be good for reading in a storm, I mean, I think Megan GUARANTEED it was going to make me cry, and the first words of the book are "Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life" - ha! And the part I was on involved one of the sisters having her braces adjusted by the orthodontist. Hardly storm material! And it was then that I recalled my trusty GAZETTEER OF BRITISH GHOSTS, barely picked through. I read about Borley Rectory, surely the most famously haunted house in England. "In the 1900s Borley Rectory, as a haunted house, had everything," the author assures us. Ha ha! And here's a mysterious and poignant fragment: "Marianne who has lived a strange and unhappy life now resides in Canada..." That's almost a Lydia Davis story, that fragment. Then we come upon "a typed manuscript with pasted-in photographs, cuttings, booklets, posters, tracings and plans that became known as 'The Locked Book of Private Information' after Price acquired it, had it bound in morocco and fitted it with a Bramah lock." Yes, yes, this was more like it. What else do you need to know? There is a giant striped spider I can see out our front window - a spider so large you can see it from the sidewalk in front of our house - and a torrent of rain off the roof was really bashing its web. The web held up! The spider ran up a slender thread for the safety of the front porch, and I mean ran, that spider was really booking it, as I think we used to say when I was a kid, is that what we said? Booking it? I have a used copy of Green's massive three-volume DICTIONARY OF SLANG coming, so I'll let you know.