The Joy of SIGs

            I do not like to use this space for overtly political matters, but once in a while a blogger has to stand up and be counted.  This is an election year, and I feel I must point out a matter which may have slid past you, in the excitement of the Super Bowl and what-all.  (I completely forgive you for being more interested in the NFL playoffs than in the presidential playoffs.  The NFL games take less time, have more rules about fan conduct, and, besides, once again the Bears have earned a bye straight through to next fall.)  But I wanted to alert you to the question of Special Interest Groups.

            I love ‘em.  Couldn’t have a Book Fair without ‘em.

            It’s just not fair, the way speechifiers fulminate against those SIGs.  If it weren’t for the Special Interest Groups, I could make do with two categories come July: Bestsellers Fiction and bestsellers Nonfiction.  But some people insist on being interested in something besides what supposedly interests everybody.  This is why I can put out books on the history of TV commercials (did you know the Frito bandito was born right here in Chicago?), comic books which have tripled in value since they were published and are now therefore worth nearly one dollar, and even books of poetry (I have, for reasons not known to me, a Spanish translation of Joel Barlow’s Columbiad, an 18th century epic poem about the discovery of America.  THAT will require a Special Interest Group, let me tell you.)

            And the donations I get from Special Interest Groups!  That little collection of media guides from college basketball teams of the 70s and 80s should keep me busy on eBay for a while to come.  That small stack of official publications of the Burmese Government, ditto.  I have never heard back from the lady who offered me three hundred old menus; she was going to talk her husband into giving them to me.  I hope they’re both still alive and married, preferably to each other.  The lady with the 40,000 presidential campaign pins hasn’t been heard from, either.  I can get over that.  It’d turn into a full-time career.

            Everybody is, really, a member of two or more Special Interest Groups, some of them very special indeed.  A lady I know mainly as a collector of jazz 78s and books by Octavus Roy Cohen recently put in a request for old stamps with birds on them, while another regular donor who is known to me for her ABC books has offered to let me sell a page of Ezekiel from the first printing of the King James Bible.  And that lady, probably a loving mother and normal-looking citizen, who amassed that collection of government pamphlets on how to raise children (two BOXES of them) can only be labeled a Special Interest Group.

            So I take this opportunity of expressing my gratitude for living in a country with so many Special Interest Groups.  Without them, face it, we just wouldn’t be especially interesting.

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