Friday, June 15, 2007

Done by Hope

Being a used and rare book dealer has its drawbacks. The newer book doesn't walk through the door all that often. When it does, it's usually gone before you get a chance to open it.

The book you want to read is usually the book someone else wants to buy. And, heck, you're trying to stay in business, so you always let that someone take it out of your hands and buy it. I've had that happen with The Devil in the White City, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Cormac McCarthy's The Road.

I guess I shouldn't read in public. Forget about sitting at the front desk with an open book in my hand.

I've had several copies of The Devil in the White City. I've read it piecemeal...which is a very unsatisfying way to read a book.

I did the smart thing with The Road. I checked it out of the library. It's sitting quietly on the stand next to the couch waiting for me to finish it. If I weren't so afraid of selling a book that's not mine, I would bring it to the bookstore and finish it here.

I love Cormac McCarthy. Okay, he can be dark, horrifying, and unrelentingly mean to his own characters. Yet every time I open one of his books, my disbelief is suspended, my chin silently drops, and I read on in open-mouthed amazement.

The Road
is no exception.

What happened to put this man and this boy on such a desolate road, what happened to the woman who gave birth to this boy are -- for me -- only niggling questions. My only concern is how the man and the boy stay good in such an bad world. As I turn each page, I chant this mantra --

Please let them stay good, Mr. McCarthy, please let them stay good.

Here's a question -- What would you do at the end of the world? Forget Jesus. Forget Buddha. Forget Muhammad. What would you do?

My husband tells me I don't even need to think about it. If there were terrorist incident or a nuclear war, he says, Denver would get gold embossed invitations. I don't tell him that there are other forms of apocalypse...the ones where tsunamis clobber the coasts and the best place to be is in the Mile-Hi City or somewhere near Colorado Springs.

The truth of it is...I don't even want to think about it. If the world comes to an end, please don't let me survive.

The solution is...I need to be good here and now.

The quote of the day on today's sandwich board was "Everything that is done in the world is done by hope."

Let me proceed with hope, Mr. McCarthy, let me proceed with hope.

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