Crushing Dreams

I hope you are poised to have your illusions shattered.

I really hate to do these sorts of things, you know. I prefer unshattered illusions, which is why I try never to tell a hopeful book bearer that the treasure he or she is showing me has a current market value of about fifty cents. I routinely growl as I price books which are dedicated to proving that Smurfs don’t really exist or that vampire stories are simply a manifestation of the essential witlessness of our ancestors. I have met neither Smurf nor Vampire in my work, nor do I expect to. But there must be better ways to spend your time that smashing people’s fantasies.

(By the way, I did have a book donation from a Hobbit once, but that’s a whole nother blog.)

You are aware that this is Labor Day weekend, and that therefore the Newberry is closed. It is locked up. It is allowing some people to come in to have a wedding, but these people do not have any time to bring in your book donations. Please do NOT bring us any books this weekend, even if you did take one rainy day to clean out the middle bedroom.

The preceding paragraph should not shatter any illusions. Those of you who read–and that’s a bunch of you–or who call on the phone know our message is “Please don’t bring us any books between the Fourth of July and Labor Day.” I have had any number of people call and start their conversation, “Now, I know you don’t want any books until after Labor Day….”

The illusion I am poised to shatter is the one you may be cherishing about how delighted I will be to see you back the truck up to the dock on Tuesday. The Book Fair Room is cold, empty, and echoing, in your vision, and I have been weeping over the loneliness and lack of books. All that stands between me and flinging myself off the roof in despair is the knowledge that at 7 A.M. on Tuesday, September 4, you will be bringing me seventeen banana boxes filled with Book-of-the-Month Club gems from the 1950s PLUS your Encyclopaedia Britannica from 1946.

Did you hear the “whoooosh”? That’s my hammer swinging around to shatter your illusion.

I’m kind of hoping there is not a steady stream of cars lining up at the dock come Tuesday morning. I’m working my way through the first installments of another celebrity donation (hint: one of the treasures is a rare record of a roast in his honor when he became Cook County Sheriff). Another donor sent me three boxes of World Book encyclopedias…including not one complete set. (She apparently mixed and matched volumes from the 1950, 1953, and 1956 editions.) There are seven boxes of neatly inventoried National Geographics. There was a box of vampire romances (none involving Smurfs), six boxes of art books, three of children’s books, one of limited edition and slightly salacious tomes published a century ago, and one box of miscellaneous books welded together at the bottom by mold.

The last few months before the Book Fair were encumbered by seven large estates coming in in a six week period. Well, I have been granted five condos to empty in the first month of autumn. (“I know you can’t come until after Labor Day, but I do have to be out by the sixth.”)

What I’m saying, peanut butter pizza, is that if you expected to drop off books and see Uncle Blogsy come running to kiss you on both cheeks, I must shatter your illusion. I will of course welcome you with civility, in the belief that somewhere in the trunk of your car you may be concealing a Gutenberg Bible.

I might, certainly, come running up to you anyhow. If I see your station wagon loaded with banana boxes.

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