Monday, August 19, 2013

Omnibuses Versus Regular Books

I don't feel comfortable with omnibuses, related novels or works put together in one or more whale-sized volumes. I don't like hefting 700+ pages to get to favorite scenes. It makes books feel weightier than they need to be. They should be balloons, not anvils. I realized this while on page 144 of More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, the second of his celebrated masterwork series, this paperback edition a Harper Perennial 2007 reissue.

I love the Tales of the City series, knowing Mary Ann Singleton, Brian Hawkins, Michael "Mouse" Tolliver, Mona Ramsey, and, of course, Anna Madrigal, the grand lighthouse landlord of 28 Barbary Lane. In fact, with two weeks left before my family and I move to our new home, a neighborly, pleasant, peaceful forest of an apartment complex in Henderson, I've checked out of the Whitney Library the bulk of the Tales of the City series to reread them and decide which ones I want to buy for my permanent book collection after we move. My widescreen TV is becoming the living room TV because I want bookcases in my room once and for all, and the Tales of the City series should be part of that.

I don't like omnibuses because they clump stories together in a mass. An introductory page does separate each novel, but you're holding the previous novel while you're reading the next novel. I understand the convenience of referencing a scene from a previous novel that relates to a current novel, but it's not for me. If I want to check something in the previous novel, I can dig into my collection and pick it up, on its own. Every book needs its own space, its own mass.

Back in Santa Clarita in May of 2012, I bought an enormous book containing the first three Tales of the City novels: Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, and Further Tales of the City. I had been thinking about the series again, as happens many times a year, and I wanted to spend some time in that San Francisco again. So there I was, with those three novels, and I enjoyed the experience as I always have, but I didn't feel entirely comfortable. It was because of that book. I wanted Mary Ann and Brian and Michael separate from those different times in their lives, not those times pressed so close to each other.

Yes, compared to omnibuses, the separate novels take up more space on a bookshelf, but there's such deep, harmonious pleasure in looking at those novels, proud to know they are yours, thinking about which one to read again. But there are exceptions. I have huge volumes of all of Neil Simon's plays, and I'm happy to have his genius comedy and wit all together. And it feels right to have all of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy novels together too in The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The universe is awfully vast, and that book makes it look slightly more manageable, but only just.

I bought Tales of the City two weeks ago for my permanent collection. That has to be with me. And I reread Michael Tolliver Lives and Mary Ann in Autumn, the latest two installments, around the same time as I bought Tales of the City. Those are on my list to buy after I move. And maybe I will end up buying the entire series. But I want to be absolutely sure. I also want the pleasure of visiting with these wonderful people again.


  1. I don't do omnibuses. Why are you moving? How's Mom? Are you working? What about Meridith? You really must make more of an effort to stay in touch. You know how I worry.


    1. We're moving because a year in this mobile home park is more than enough, and it's not where we wanted to be in the first place. But this is where we had to be because where we wanted to be didn't have any units available when we needed to move here. Now that apartment complex, Pacific Islands, has a unit available for us, and we only signed a year's lease with this mobile home park. We'll have two rents for the month of September, but necessary so we can move to Pacific Islands earlier than the lease runs out.

      Mom's doing well, admirable as ever, and is really excited about the move because we're finally moving to a genuine neighborhood. It feels like it, from our complex, to the shopping center right across the railroad tracks, to the fact that the Green Valley Library is on the same side of the street, and I can walk there. And I'm sure there's still more good that we don't know about yet.

      Not working yet. I applied to be a full-time circulation specialist at Green Valley Library recently, but for the sake of saving money, however it works, the circulation manager decided to hire internally, although he was straight with me when I met with him about why he didn't hire me and I'm grateful to him for that because I needed to know what was going on so I didn't miss out on the upcoming school year just in case. So now I'm waiting for a position at one of the four elementary schools I want to be at to open up, and I also filled out a form to be put in the Qualified Service Pool as a clerk typist as well. As Mom has always said, I should be making money from my typing. So this gives me two options again. Plus I'm looking at the City of Henderson and the Clark County Department of Aviation, and I'll send e-mails this week to ask around. I'm hoping something opens up in the school district, though, so I don't have to keep worrying about this.

      Meridith's starting at Fremont Middle in the cafeteria kitchen soon, hoping to be made full time there, rather than part time. We're all hoping.

      I'll keep up on your blog more. I promise.

    2. You don't have to keep up on my blog. You just have to let me know that you and Mom and Dad and Meridith are okay.