Shelf life

May 10, 2009


Mine is the bookshelf of an absolute phony. The kind of phony who sleeps better at night knowing that the books sleep beside him, which in his own phony mind make him an impressive book collector. It is truly one of the most show-offy looking collection of books I’ve ever seen. I don’t even know why I do this, collect books and never read them again (with the exception of David Sedaris and maybe a few Bret Easton Ellis, and JD Salinger – for sure), and place them exactly where I sleep. Not exactly in the bed but very near to it. Needless to say, it’s an inconvenient arrangement as some of them tend to fall whenever I turn around the bed violently. In the first place, no one ever takes interest in anybody’s book shelf. My bookshelf’s really a substitute for things, body parts mostly, that I can’t improve. But no one’s impressed.

I remember going to the Read or Die convention and seeing what I thought was a first edition Coraline. I never cared for Neil Gaiman and it’s a puzzle to me afterwards why I ever asked the book seller if it was truly a first edition. I bought it and was only mildly heartbroken that it didn’t turn out to be first or second or even a third edition. If there ever was a hierarchy for a book’s value, the Coraline I got was definitely somewhere in the 20th tier. Serves me right for being such a wannabe geek. I have a William Faulkner book squeezed in between Booksale-bought Augusten Burroughs and I just know that the Faulkner serves no other purpose than to decorate. I kind of thought that having Light in August, in Between Burroughs and Sedaris is impressively diverse. A stupid perception, of course. But it’s there and it’s going to be there until I find another highbrow book to replace it with.

I also thought that being the kind of person who owns Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is impressive. I could only come up with this conclusion:  I have exactly 5 shirts that I look good in and nothing else that makes me look impressive so this book shelf pimping must be my way of coping up with the very social need of a 24 year old to appear impressive. Are you bored yet? This sentiment bores me too. Maybe I gathered all those books not because I want to be super literate or super poor but because I want to live in my room forever. It might also be because I want to be the type of blowhard who casually quotes from unheard of literary works because my head would simply implode if I try to casually mention anything that happened in real life. But just maybe.

I remind me of the college kid in Catherine Crawford’s JD Salinger essay collection If You Really Want to Hear About It, who may or may not have brought JD Salinger’s Nine Stories at a frat party, and who may or may not have been reading the book unironically. Because really, what could be phonier than a JD Salinger book at a frat party. But then again, if you’ve encountered more than The Catcher in the Rye in the very slim Salinger catalogue, you’ll know that his books are pretty mobile. They’re these small, inconspicuous books that you’d have no problem bringing in clubs or frat parties, for when all the drinking and general craziness bored you. Like the college kid, I may be aiming for an effect. Something that sounds like Wow, You have the 21 Uncollected Short Stories of super author JD Salinger. You’re Very Impressive. But no, it never happens. Every time I direct somebody’s attention to the room and ultimately to the book shelf, I try to magnify their attention to them with the success rate of an umbrella salesman in a pleasantly cloudy day. And as Ms Crawford funnily puts it, I didn’t have the people’s vote as an interesting person, which is, I have to admit, one grand statement from a self-proclaimed uninteresting person. The People’s Vote? Have I really gotten that deluded? Don’t answer. Only smirk. But I’m fine with being uninteresting. And I love all those paper on shelves. I should just try to learn not to crowd David, Bret and JD with phony-ass authors like Kerouac and Faulkner. But if you think my books and book shelf are pretentious, examine my CDs. You’ll puke. And maybe phonily congratulate me for trying very, very hard.


2 Responses to “Shelf life”

  1. 866 Toll Says:

    Usually I dont post on blogs, but I have to say that this post really forced me to do so. Really nice post!

  2. […] her from what can easily be assumed as one of the most despised book JD Salinger has ever known, If You Really Want to Hear About It, but probably next only to the UK only published Ian Hamilton biography in Salinger’s list of […]

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