Tuesday, April 13, 2010

67/M, 8, The jacket blurbs are right.

When I first saw the small white piece of paper inside the pages of my library book I thought that it was a haiku.

(click photo to enlarge)

It wasn't, even though it had the correct number of syllables (if you leave out the "&" in the last line which actually may be a "-" and therefore not counted anyway).

According to its jacket blurbs "Lush Life" seems like the type of work that might interest someone who pens poetic poesy on paper slips. It attracted me, even though I thought that this opus was "just" a mystery story when I took it out of the library.

I had heard about it on a local public radio program, so I probably should have known that it had higher aspirations. But I didn't read the book cover publicity notices until after I had come upon the 2 1/2" by 4" hand-written document inside.

When I did, I discovered that it was actually a "high and deep...slice of life" (Michael Chabon) by "the greatest writer of dialogue, living or dead" (Dennis Lehare). The front jacket even had a quote from Michiko Kakutani, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for the New York Times. Pulitzer laureates (and NPR book reviewers) don't waste their time on schlock.

But I wanted a mystery story. So I decided to investigate the writer of the note.

In addition to my due date there were two other month-day-year notations stamped in the book -- "June 13, 2009" (the acquisition date) and another due date of "AUG 27 2009". The author of the note was also the only other person to have taken out this book.

But the reader evaluation form on the front endpaper told me nothing about the other reader's age, gender, rating (1-10) or comments-- only the first two of which I actually cared about.

This was not surprising. At this library the books normally contain more due dates than evaluations I rarely put them there myself. In our town we library patrons prefer to play our reading preferences close to the vest.

The note itself did not offer much more information.

I checked the Internet (an inexact source) for handwriting analysis (an inexact science) and found some penmanship that looked similar." Most people would probably say this was 'feminine' because so many letters are rounded, but there is some irregularity that might make people guess" wrote the online graphology expert. In other words it could be male or female.

The subject matter was automotive -- and much more arcane than my minimal knowledge of motor vehicles. The author of the note could be an auto-expert or merely a transcriber of the words that he or she heard from one of them.

Either way the safety situation sounds pretty grim -- more akin to the lyric of a country-western song than the theme of a haiku. I hope that the note's author got home safely after returning the book. But who knows?

"One slice of life mystery, tucked inside another one." (Jim Meehan)

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