Friday, January 28, 2011

Here It Is: The First Day of a New History

This afternoon, at 2:48, before I decided to check the mail, I thought to myself, "It would be nice if my copy of "Travels with My Aunt" arrived today." Never mind that I was anticipating picking up "Reading Jackie" from the library or delving into my annual (sometimes twice-annual) reading of "The Remains of the Day" tomorrow.

I checked the mail. Six packages in the locker next to the mailboxes, all for me. I brought them back to the house, opened up the Netflix envelope containing disc 3 of the fifth season of "The West Wing" (I loathe that season, but one episode, "The Stormy Present", about the funeral of a former president that is attended not only by Bartlet, but former president Newman (James Cromwell) and former acting president Walken (John Goodman), continues to fascinate me, probably because of many visits to the Reagan Library, considering the breadth of the property, the details inside by the artifacts there), and then turned my attention to the packages.

The other titles don't matter, but suffice it to say that they are also books I've been looking forward to reading. In the final package, I pulled out "Travels with My Aunt" by Graham Greene, a paperback Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition from 2004, celebrating the Graham Greene Centennial. On the cover is a gentle drawing of what must be a dahlia, with soft yellows within the petals, and right in the middle of the flower, darkish red, and then fading pink, and what looks like black in the middle. I thought it to be dark blue, but looking at it in better light, it's black. The cover design was by a man named Paul Buckley, who, checking Google, was or is, at least in 2006, Vice President Executive Art Director at Penguin Group USA. The dahlia illustration was by Brian Cronin, who, again Google, is a very professional illustrator, as evidenced by his website: This man not only knows how to draw and use colors to create new worlds, but what he does create corresponds so closely to the books themselves (he also did the cover of Greene's "Brighton Rock" for the same quiet centennial celebration) that a new generation may very well connect his cover artwork as closely to Greene's words as previous generations had done with the other covers of Greene's works.

I immediately fell in love with this copy, as soon as I pulled it out of that packaging. I never once regretted returning to the library that particular copy of "Travels with My Aunt" that I had checked out twice, and when I saw this copy, I forgot about that one. I can easily begin a new history with this book. I will cherish this one every day, I don't think I'll go as far to mark it up as I will when I get all of Neil Simon's plays for my birthday, but I think it will eventually be as well-worn as those will be.