As If I Needed More Books…

I went to the 11 a.m. service at the Unitarian Church today because the children’s choir, which includes Susie, was singing.  They performed “The Glory Train” early in the service, and scattered to their respective Sunday school classes.

But the big draw for me was the book exchange.  Give up some of the books you don’t want, and go home with the ones you do… and you don’t even have to swap.  Their goal is that these books find their way onto loving shelves.

If you ever visit our house, you will note that we have enough books to stock a small-town public library.  Nonetheless, I did find a few books I was willing to lose.  One was the second of my two paperback copies of Andersonville, by MacKinley Kantor, a wonderful historical novel about the infamous Confederate POW camp in Georgia during the Civil War which had a near 50% fatality rate due to starvation, contaminated water, exposure, disease, etc.  It may have been the world’s largest Petri dish.  (I’m not saying the Union prisoner-of-war camps were Club Med, either.  Both sides were equally guilty of mistreatment–by conscious wrongdoing or neglect–of POWs.)

Sitting on the table with this computer is a shopping bag bearing Steph’s and my new treasures.  I’m most proud of obtaining Digital Fortress, which is by Dan Brown and predates The da Vinci Code.  I also now have a handsome H.P. Lovecraft anthology and The Norton Introduction to Literature, featuring literature from the U.S. and around the world.

While I was scanning its index, I found something quite by accident.  It was a brief poem by X.J. Kennedy called “Epitaph for a Postal Clerk.”  Since I was a graveyard-shift postal clerk and mail sorter at Cincinnati’s main post office 1992-1995, maybe it ought to be what is carved on my tombstone:

Here lies wrapped up in sod
Henry Harkins c/o God.
On the day of Resurrection
May be opened for inspection.

I am hoping that I will indeed be wrapping up The Sad Hospital in the next few days.  National Novel Writing Month begins Thursday, and for once in my life I would like to have one project out of the way before beginning another.  I am on the last chapter of The Sad Hospital, so it would be a shame for it to go on hiatus for a month while I devote all my time to my Novel-in-a-Month project.  But my goal is to finish it before Wednesday (Wednesday night, Steph has a Women’s Theology meeting and Pat, Tanya, and I are all going trick-or-treating together with our kids), so that I can take the finished manuscript to work, photocopy it (one of those you’re-not-supposed-to-but-we-do-it-anyway that each office has), and then let Steph go ove it mercilessly with her blue pencil.  This I want done before I begin typing a word-processed copy, which is what I will submit (either on paper, disk, or by modem) to prospective publishers.  But I am not touching The Sad Hospital until December.

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