April 1, 2006

the rhythm of my footsteps crossing flood lands

Posted in books tagged at 4:37 pm by placeinthestars

A. is a bad influence. I want to let you know that right upfront. I have had a moratorium on buying new books for over a year now, and with some exceptions I pretend didn’t actually happen (usually aided by Amazon gift certificates, but not always), I’ve been pretty good about it, as I still have four bins of unread books sitting in my apartment, waiting.

But the Strand is a trap for the unwary bibliophile, and even the wary one. Because I honestly didn’t mean to buy five new books, but I did anyway. I certainly didn’t need a copy of Chapman’s Homer, even though I’ve never read that translation, and I could have waited to buy Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, War for the Oaks and The Master and Margarita (leading A. to comment on my love for the devil *snicker*), all of which were recommended to me at one point or another, and seriously, I shouldn’t be so easy that the word “map” convinces me to buy a book of short stories (I don’t even really *like* original short stories as a form!) but I did buy Andrea Barrett’s Servants of the Map. I am just in love with maps and have been since I was a kid.

Every year, my dad used to get the National Geographic Atlas, and I would sit for hours poring over it, picking out random places and reading about them and wondering what it would be like to go there. When I was attempting my own magnum opus of original fiction – i.e., the countless LotR ripoffs I wrote as a kid – I would always start with maps, and they were always beautifully detailed and colored in and real to me in ways the characters I created never were. I could tell you the history and the economic system and the language and the way the criminal underclass operated, but I couldn’t create a damned character worth reading about – I couldn’t even keep my own interest up once the worldbuilding was done, so I always moved onto the next world, the next map, the next place that would maybe show me something new, some undiscovered country where I’d find what I was looking for, because I’d know it when I saw it, even though I couldn’t have told you what it was at the time.

Then, we looked over the bags they sell, and A. went right for the jaunty, pretty striped one, and I reached immediately for the black tote. Which tells you which of us is the native New Yorker, I think. *snerk*

She ended up with the larger striped tote, which reminds me for some reason of a beach bag – it’s got that light, summery feel to it – and I ended up with the more expensive – but not black! – messenger bag, in olive drab. Pre-worn, even the logo is fading. It looks like it’s been through the wars already and survived, and I appreciate that in a bag. I used to have a khaki canvas one I used until it fell apart.

I love bags. My dad and my sister are jacket people – my father has a jacket for every possible permutation of weather. Me, I have more bags than any one person could possibly use, and yet I can’t resist the lure of a shiny backpack or messenger bag. I love my red and gold chinoiserie bag, and my tiny brown leather Coach purse, and my little black backpack, and my big floral canvas tote, and now my olive drab Strand messenger bag.

Maps and bags. Man, I really should be more well-travelled than I am. I am sad now at how little I’ve travelled, how little of the world I’ve seen. I wish I could be optimistic that that would change, but I don’t think it will. Sigh.

Oh, iTunes, you would play “Transatlanticism” now, wouldn’t you? *sniffle*

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