Dear Santa Blech:
I think the only reason I still write to you is that you have email, and you won’t cost me a stamp. I’m kind of surprised you do online communication, as you seem to be way behind the times in every other way. You don’t remember me, but I’m the one who every year finds in her stocking cheap, chirpy, happy secondhand books with inscriptions like “To Dumpling From Da-Da”. Here I am, looking for dark, cynical stories with lecherous evil scientists in post-apocalyptic worlds, and what I get is Dumpling’s copy of hefty the Hippo Meets the Bobbsey Triplets! If you’d stop pushing Dumpling’s castoffs on people, my parents would be forced to buy new books, with their grim wastelands and ghoulish governments.
Dear Dum Dum:
I assume that it is part of your preference for grim scenarios which accounts from your belief that Santa Blogs could ever forget you. A child forgotten by Santa Blogs would have no chance at books like Florida’s First Presbyterians or Great Quotations from Indiana Authors Before 1890. Excuse me, I must dab at my eyes.
In any case, where do you get your belief that old books can’t be tragic and bleak? I have any number of libretti and opera books. For every La Cenerentola, where the heroine marries her handsome prince, there are at least three Toscas, in which all the main characters wind up dead. We also have a modest collection of reprints of Gothic romances from the turn of the (nineteenth) century, in which the heroine more often than not finds herself locked in a small room with the body of some dear friend who died four or five years ago, and sees things go downhill from there.
What I’m trying to tell you, marzipan meatball, is that your generation didn’t INVENT gloomy fiction. Getting your parents to buy you exclusively shiny new books means you may never get into the much-loved tale of the Irish heroine Deirdre, who is beautiful, and noble, and pure, and winds up being sentenced to spend a year as the slave of the man who killed her husband. She gets revenge by killing herself. Can your modern heroines compete with that? (Plus, the heroine is so beautiful that the cover of one of these books could easily convince your parents they’re buying you another cheerful fairy tale. And they might not find an online review saying the book is unsuitable for you if the book is an old one.)
Old books can satisfy your desire for a really gripping bad time, if that’s what you’re looking for. True, in the old novels, when the heroine gets torn to shreds in a book they didn’t immediately bring her back to have it done in a sequel. But surely this increases the sense of hopelessness if you know the author isn’t out there right now writing Dreary Days at Dustmere IV.
I hope you get plenty of books for Christmas, Dum. I might wish you a few unpleasant things as well, but no. Santa Blogs realizes what this season is all about, and hopes you get bunny slippers and jammies with dancing hippos on them and a sweater that lights up and plays “Drummer Boy”. I know that’ll drive you to hide in the closet and read all those nifty books.
In any case, I wish you a wonderful time (even if that means you get to throw tantrums) and I wish to all blog readers out there a marshmallow-merry couple of weeks while I am off on my end-of-year celebration. Have a couple of holidays, keep warm, don’t get snowed in anywhere boring, and don’t drop off books when the Newberry is closed. See you in 2020. L’chaim!