Saturday, August 25, 2012

"Finding Unexpected Stories Within Books"

In the September 2012 issue of The Writer, Martha Lundin reviews Michael Popek's book Forgotten Bookmarks: A Bookseller's Collection of Odd Things Lost Between the Pages (Penguin, 192 pp, hardcover, $18.95.) What stories can be gleaned from items left behind when their usefulness as bookmarks has passed? He mentions photos, letters, cards, notes, poems, receipts, invoices, advertisements, and even official documents.

The review reminded me of my grandmother's Bible, a hardcover volume which she covered with a soft yellow chamois. How many times did I pop through the back door (our backyards connected with a beaten path where grass ne'er grew!) and find her sitting with it in her lap?

When my parents were both in a nursing home, but before they were willing to give up their apartment, I often walked through the apartment to be sure everything was in order. During one pass, I spotted the Bible on the bottom shelf of a table beside my father's bed. So the next time I visited him, I asked if I could have it. His reply was, "Of course! You can have anything you want." Being the only living child, I knew that, but out of respect for my parents, I would have touched nothing without their permission.

When I brought it home, I leafed through it, somehow sure that I would find something with a message for me. There were anonymous four-digit phone numbers jotted on the flyleaf, none of which I recognized. Between the pages lay cards, notes and newspaper clippings, but nothing jumped out at me and said, "She left this for you!" I'll admit being disappointed, even though I knew I really couldn't expect to find what I was looking for--whatever that was!

Still, after reading the book review, I'm tempted to go back and look again. Perhaps, unwittingly, she left me the idea for a brilliant story, even a novel. Who knows?

And perhaps the next time I'm in a used bookstore, I'll find a forgotten lottery ticket. Meanwhile, I'm going to suggested Mr. Popek's book as a purchase by my local library. Reviewers at Amazon.com rated it 4.4 out of 5 stars. Unfortunately, it's not in Kindle, but here's the link to take a look: Forgotten Bookmarks

1 comment:

K9friend said...

I think you have a story (or at least an essay) just in gaining possession of your grandmother's Bible and the memories it holds.

Pat
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