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Survivor Guilt
Of the Literary Kind
© 2013 James LaFond
In June 2012 Charles and I discussed doing book reviews on the site. He told me that ‘the blog is the place for that kind of geeky discussion.’ I promptly wrote an article describing the process, which, I think because of the title, has not been read. So, I am reposting it below.
I have recently begun posting boxing reviews on the Inside the Ropes page. Likewise, reviews of books of a purely martial nature will either be posted in Ancient Combat or Modern Combat. There will be no book reviews posted under Harm City or Fiction.
Please, if you would like to write a review, send it to me as a word attachment at jameslafond dot com at gmail dot com.
From One Geek to Another
Blog Reviews
In September of 2010 I found out I had to move and had a two week window to get into a place I could afford. I had a huge problem, the 800 hardback books on my shelves. I was only going to be able to accommodate 200 books in my new room. I selected those based solely on my writing and research needs. This left 600 books that had to go. I paid on average of $20 a piece for these books over 30 years. I do not drive and would actually be moving largely by bus and as a car passenger.
What was I to do?
I asked the Baltimore County Public Library if they could pick these up. They could not.
I asked Good Will if they could pick these up. They could not.
I asked an antique dealer if she could sell them and keep all the money. She could not.
I asked friends and family if they would like any. They took about 100 books.
I threw the other 500 books into the dumpster at the apartment complex where I lived. It took me about 2 hours to haul them by the trash-can load to the dumpster, which was over half full when I was done. I must say, it was a sad experience. I did, as a low-end writer, enjoy one cheap thrill when I committed the complete illustrated Dickens to the reeking deep.
Now, after I put the bullet in my library’s brain, all of my friends and family were horrified. But I had no means to house or move these books and all of these people had declined to take any books or had taken all they wanted. My son later told me that if I had told him that I was going to throw them out that he would have sold them online and made thousands. Then, just a few months after I moved I saw a book-drop box for some charitable organization.
Was the halfway house for homeless books there when I committed my sin? Had I overlooked it? How was I to live with myself after this act of libracide; a heinous sin that I previously thought was only committed by communists, fascists and evangelists?
So, there it stands; my inexcusable literary sin. I bought them one at a time, caressed them, used them, and then threw them into a mass grave: Shakespeare, Dickens, Tolkien, Burroughs, Foote, Keegan and many more authors who were better than I. I even tossed about 70 books that I had not yet read! I also tossed the Playboy collection—except for the one with the Armenian-American chick on the cover.
Now, here I sit, surrounded by the survivors, collecting another book every week, victims in waiting apparently destined for the next mass grave I dig—or rent—wanting somehow to repent. Having sat in judgment over myself for nearly two years now, I have decided on my penance. I shall review everything I read—excepting research material for my fiction and non-fiction projects—so that you can gain something by it even if you decline to take a portion of my collection when I finally move into that cardboard box.
I am using a 5-star system simply because others do. The ratings are vested with the following meaning:
5-stars…I want to read it again and will cry when I throw it in that dumpster.
4-stars…You should really read it if you are interested in the subject or not.
3-stars…It is a worthwhile read if you are interested in the subject.
2-stars…Only my iron will, the unbreakable resolve of the ultra-geek who read 614 books on Baltimore City buses and bus stops between 1998 and 2001, saw me through to the last page. Mortal geeks may be excused for not reading this and should be glad that I read it for them—indeed they may wish to contribute to my optometry fund by purchasing my complete works...
1-star…I either could not get through the book [Look I read the Koran, Love Letters to a Boy, a bronze-age cargo manifest, an interview with a gangster rapper, and a Q&A with a Hollywood gynecologist, all in the same day.]; or, quite possibly, this review constitutes the memorial service for those 2.5 hours of my life that I will never get back!
I hope you enjoy my penance.
James, 9/17/2012
Alice B. Sheldon
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