Monday, October 4, 2010

Dex met with Macaulay in his library

Heads-up for hedonists ~ 

Heywood Hill’s Autumn List has landed, ‘and there is no health in us.’ 

Or none that can't be restored by enlisting in the drama of literary selection, rooted in dialogue with discernment, play, cultivation and quirk. Browse the List, and let no more than three-fifths (a sentimental fraction for a sound constitution) of your choices reinforce your happy habits, and let the four-fold tithe that’s left engulf you in diversified new personalities, pleasures. It’s what a bookseller’s for, and these booksellers - in the English language, for the most part - are good, even better than the gossip that so richly hovers about their name.

You know the bookseller. He or she’s someone who’s known our family since before we were born, has known what books we’ve seen about the house all our life, who supplied our birthday books and college Christmas books and possibly even our tentative first venture toward our own untested taste, eyebrow only flickeringly in flight. 

One of the great and necessary callings in existence, we turn to it repeatedly, in all kinds of weather, and evermore most gratefully, now that its extinction’s in our face, an entire generation driven madly to accelerate its extirpation from this world, flogged by mergers, acquisitions, and the rest of the vulgar, flotsam fallout of fiscal fantasies we’ve fattened by, leaving the next to fend for itself with ignorant search engines.

A cordial word, then, to bloggers passing by. Never, please, commit an Amazonian referral of a text, when a simple publisher’s citation will very well suffice. Renounce i-Tunes’ hideously Luddite “Genius” app, Wikipedia’s revolting indolence, and cutting the throat of friendship at its finest, the person who knows our books. Especially to aesthetes, I pose this hypothetical: Do we love what Bruce Chatwin, Elizabeth David, and Syrie Maugham knew and saved and found and made and showed and did, enough, to secure their passage to another generation?

They live by relationships we know to be tenuous, by commendation we believe to be important, and by thought of others in their works from top to bottom. Google will find them, but who will know them?

If it’s good, let the calling for it live. If we have to be hod carriers, it will likely do us good. For me, there’s a new Le Carré, for which I’m happy to pay a fair price. But suppose it’s Josceline Dimbleby? Whose chump search engine’s going to give me her? And where does one go to say, “Hey, wonderful.”

Is it true, or is there a price on it?

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