Monday, September 21, 2009

In Which Simon Casts Aspersions on the Library of Congress Just for Fun

When I was a freshman I worked in the library shelving books. For some reason I guess I wanted to immortalize the experience, and I took this picture. It is labelled as "fainting from dust intake." I did not like working in the library. For one thing, the dust was oppressive. For another, even though I worked pretty deep in the stacks, there were sometimes people there, and I did not like people interfering in my section because they invariably messed things up. No doubt they spent their youths learning the Dewey Decimal System, because nobody told them about this renegade system of classification put forth by the Library of Congress, well-known as a hotbed of classification rebellion. For another thing, it's not like I was shelving books on South American flora. They gave me PS-PZ, which includes American literature. They gave me American literature, but I was only allowed to shelve it, not to READ it. They will not pay you to READ it. It was a cruel thing to do to an English major. They should have given me the Spanish section.

There is no point to this except that working in this section is the reason I once took out a book of short stories by Hemingway, read two of them, decided the man was unintelligible, and returned it. (And later personally shelved it, no doubt.) I did not try Hemingway again until a couple of weeks ago, when I began reading the complete collection of his stories (purchased for a dollar at a library sale of course). It turns out I love Hemingway. And I shall no doubt be posting about him over the next few weeks. So I guess this post is mainly to tell you that if you hate Hemingway and you don't want to hear about him, you can blame the American Literature section of the Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Library for what I will soon force you to undergo.

1 comment:

Pandora said...

It is shocking that an English major of your stature and accomplishment has only just discovered the delights of Hemingway. Especially given that you have at least one sibling who is exceptionally fond of him, even if he did have a predilection for womanizing, drinking himself into oblivion and gallivanting around Europe getting into trouble. We all have our little faults. So, read on. But don't read too fast. Pace yourself. He only wrote so much and he is dead, after all.