Thursday, October 8, 2009

Resident Authors/Visiting Authors

Writers come to my house all the time. Granted, they're completely paralyzed up and down, glued between two covers and made up of hundreds of pages rather than flesh, bone, fingers, toes, arms, legs, and all else that makes up a human package. But they're here. Right now, Kazuo Ishiguro is in my room, perched atop a pile of issues of The New Yorker, touting "Nocturnes," five short stories he wrote, the second of which sounds a little similar to the first, but fortunately veers away from what the first was after. Craig Ferguson's on a shelf in the living room, with "American on Purpose." I know about his drug use and his first major role as Mr. Wick on "The Drew Carey Show," but I want to know more. I want him to be completely open and from what I've read elsewhere, he is. If that's the case, he'll make a fine and most welcome houseguest.

E.L. Doctorow is also here, with yet another story to tell in "Homer & Langley." He also has the distinction of being a resident author in my room, as I own a copy of "Ragtime." Most of the time, he's a guest here. I think the only writer who can truly be considered a resident is Charles Bukowski, in poetry, prose and fiction that could only be called fiction with names and some situations changed, but every word is mostly his life. He's set to drop by as a visitor for the first time in years with "Dangling in the Tournefortia," which I had read part of on, and thought about purchasing it, but was glad to find it available through the County of Los Angeles public library system. Bukowski is also residing inside one of my makeshift box bookshelves, many books behind others, and on the floor in front of my closet with "Portions of a Wine-Stained Notebook." I think I need to pull him into the light again. It's been too long since I've paged through his posthumous collection "The Night Torn Mad with Footsteps."

There's also Edmund G. Love, an appreciated resident, with "Subways Are for Sleeping," which I read while attending classes at College of the Canyons for about two years and it sustained me through both those years. I remember sitting in a booth next to a window at the back of the generally empty cafeteria, math homework open in front of me, having given up trying to make sense of any of it. I opened "Subways Are for Sleeping" and read stories of homeless people making their own kinds of homes in New York City through creative resourcefulness and resilience. A year or so ago, I kept the copy I knew I had checked out most often, from the Norwalk library branch (sent to me when I put it on hold), claimed I'd lost it while at a rest stop outside of Las Vegas, and paid $34, $29 as listed for the book, and a $5 processing fee. After the dozens of times I checked it out, I felt it truly belonged to me because during the times I had the copy from the Hawthorne branch checked out (it always depended on which branch picked up my request), the Norwalk copy always remained untouched. Nobody was interested in a basically obscure book from 1957. I felt it should have a home with me and it's here. I like to keep writers alive who may be considered unknown and therefore dead by everyone else. Alive to me at least.

I wonder about the book's origins. Where was it before it ended up at the Norwalk branch? Was the Norwalk branch open in 1957? I don't think that year matters so much because on the inside first page, there are date stamps, four of them, under "Return On or Before" and the first date is "JUL 7 1977." Maybe this copy, perhaps with a book jacket, entered the system in 1977 or maybe earlier. I wonder who it was with when I lived in Casselberry when I was little and then in South Florida when I was older. Back then, was someone as interested in this book as I am? Parallels like that always fascinate me.

I love the resident authors in my room and I enjoy the company of those visiting authors. They always have something to say, and they always give me something to think about, even if I don't like how they say what they say. There's never a shortage of varied voices here.

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