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Screwy decimal system

Next semester, I’m taking a Lit class. I think it will be my first official Lit class as a graduate student, although really, my first one under Professor Clark almost counted as a Lit class. Not only do I know nothing about this professor, from e-mail discussions with her, we’ll be reading a lot of Gertrude Stein. I think I’ve mentioned before that, considering I have a bachelor’s degree in English Lit, I have a very narrow background in traditional literature. Sure, I could pretty much teach a class on Native American authors and perhaps write a dissertation on gothic British fiction, but I somehow managed to graduate (with honors in the major) without having touched Stein, Woolf, Hemingway, Nabokov, Vonnegut, Murdoch, Austen, Waugh, Ford, Updike and just about any other book written before 1965. Except Shakespeare. I had lots of Shakespeare, as though he somehow would bring credibility to my reading oeuvre. Whatever.

So, I’m excited. New semester. New books. A class with people who are not necessarily in the creative writing program.

Note to self: must endeavor to sound smart.

The spouse and I put together a bookshelf yesterday. It may have been a definitive moment in our marriage. We actually had two that needed to be assembled, but after we got one together (despite a failed start during which the spouse was using the wrong set of directions and couldn’t understand why the D piece, which should have been a brace, was actually one of five shelves), we decided to go to lunch and then, ah, wait until I had the new rug until putting the other one together. I then spent most of my holiday digging through the storage bedroom, looking for my books. I need to go through there with a bunch of large garbage bags, I think. Or maybe just open the window and pitch the stuff out onto the Clampett’s driveway.


I did pull some of the boxes of books into my office, though, and start sorting them in my weird methodology. I’m toying with the idea of having one shelf devoted to women short story writers, but then I’d need to have a short story section devoted to male authors and I don’t know that I want that. And then I realized that I could now have a section written by people who started writing their stuff online, since I have tomes authored by Mimi, Pamie, Gwen and Mil. And that just makes me laugh, because here’s my sorting logic: non-fiction psychological stuff (e.g. The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, Shantung Compound, School Girls) writing and/or lit theory books (e.g. The Art of Fiction, things by Natalie Goldberg and her fruity artiste-opening cohorts), old dead white guys usually published by Penguin Books (e.g. Shakespeare, Marlowe), poetry (e.g. Harjo, Frost, Locklin, a bunch of random things from undergraduate work), essays (e.g. Rakoff, Sedaris, Vowell), lit journals (because apparently I can’t throw away anything), short fiction anthologies (e.g. Best American Short Stories collections, Pushcart Prize collections, O.Henry collections), children’s lit (e.g. my childhood Golden Book encyclopedias, Shel Silverstein) stuff I wish I would have written (e.g. Coupland, Atwood, Irving, Pahliniuk, Boyle) and the non-snobby fiction (e.g. Anne Rice, Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels, anything with a cover art derived from a movie still, especially those featuring Renee Zellweger). Really, an Internet Writer section really fits in rather nicely.

I’m sort of stuck right now, because the non-assembled bookshelf has to go on top of the rug which is being shipped, while the one that is assembled is next to Penny’s Late Husband’s Chair (she gave it to me, but I still think of it as Andy’s Chair) should hold mostly the books that are yet to be read, preferably at eye level, either sitting in the chair or standing. Therefore, I may delicately pluck a volume from the shelf and then snuggle into the chair for long bouts of uninterupted reading time. Or that’s how the theory goes, anyway.

And that, my friends, is way too much insight into my logical process. To impart more would ensure that I get ambushed for an intervention the next time I walk into The Container Store. My only excuse is that I’ve been waiting for this damned office for five years, and that’s a lot of time to develop complicated fantasies involving organization and leisure and also Colin Firth.

Well, the Colin Firth thing would have probably happened regardless.