You Bearded Bozo:
Maybe you remember me. Every year, I ask you to send me some GOOD books: the kind with creatures that prowl in the night, causing death and destruction. And every year, I find the kind of sweet, simple books my parents think I should be reading. It used to be bunnies and duckies, but they now buy me things like Sweet Valley High books, and books about some Babysitters’ Club. Not only is there not a single zombie in these lame tomes, but they are OLD. Here I am, thirsty for blood and New Age monsters, and you supply me with old books, inscribed with lines like “To Tina from Her Loving Aunt Soapdish. Christmas, 1992.”
I suppose you can’t know anything about New Age Fiends when Old Age is your thing.
Dear Not Ti
Remember you? Your letters always bring me joy, with their sweet tone. They reinforce my faith in our schools, which are apparently no better at teaching manners now than they were when I was there, shortly after the War of 1812.
You have, however, confused me with your message. Do you want monsters, but not old things? Vampires are old, Notti. Terror at night is as old as human emotion, cranberry crumpet. There are tales of horror centered around old books themselves, though I have yet to read about a haunted volume of the Babysitters’ Club. (Note to writers who have stumbled on this column: I have dibs on that one.)
Take that seventeenth century book someone included in a donation years ago. Someone had scribbled all over it: every blank space was filled with notes (NOT signed by Aunt Soapdish, I admit.) Turned out to be a Renaissance edition of a classic book of spells. If you had read those scribbled notes, Notti, you might have been translated to a new dimension of terror. I wish I had known that was what you wanted at the time: giving it to you would have eliminated some of the clutter in my mailbox here at the North Pole.
Old books are not to be sniffed at, although I do have customers who do that. (I don’t ask questions; I just sell books.) Enjoying a book is not dependent on whether it was published last week. A book on the latest Bestseller List may be even more nauseatingly sweet than one your mother or grandmother or Great-Aunt Bathtub read. Competently written, a volume of the Sweet Valley Zombies (dibs again) should make you shiver just as efficiently now as it did Tina.
I hope the books you get this year make you shudder, Notti, even you are just reacting to the loving inscriptions. It’s the little things, holly hamburger, which build into holiday joys.
Speaking of holiday joys, I am off on my winter jaunt to the wilds of Iowa. The library will be open some days and closed some days over the next two weeks. Check before you try to drop off any books, and looks for signs to tell you if certain entrances are out of commission for the duration of the G.R. (Grand Renovation). Chances are the glass doors facing the parking lot will be the best to leave donations, preferably inside. But do call first to make sure those doors will be open. WE do not look for gifts on the 25th.
Keep warm, have a couple of holidays, and tune in to this space for bulletins in 2018. L’chaim!