Sunday, May 25, 2008

Everyone's a critic

I went to the library after work the other day. I'm in the middle of something thick and fairly engrossing these days (Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl), so I wasn't looking for anything in particular. I don't even think I was looking for anything in general, really. I just like going to the library, especially the tiny branch by the lake, and especially when it's a sunny day and I can park a few blocks away and walk.

Anyway, I was in the fiction section, trying to balance my own instinct to loiter with the librarian's instinct to close the library and go home, feeling pressured to choose something fast, even though I knew I didn't really need anything to read. I sort of panicked and shifted into search-for-interesting-cover-colors mode, pulling the prettiest books off the shelf as I waited for "last call." And then I opened up a certain book--I don't even remember what, exactly--and a little piece of paper fluttered out of it and onto the floor. I picked it up. It was a note written in blue ink on a little square of plain note paper. "This book is terrible," it said. "Don't bother."

I love this. I mean, I'm not sure how I feel about the unsolicited non-recommendation--it makes me feel like the person who wrote it had just a tiny bit too much time on his or her hands, or is kind of judgmental, or maybe it just really was that bad--but it's like some kind of literary vigilante justice! Zorro for the Oakland Public Library! I wonder, if I were to pick up and shake out all of the other books in the OPL system, how many more notes of this kind (and others, I suppose) I'd find. And are there recommendation notes? If I were to open a copy of A Prayer for Owen Meany, one of those books that pretty much everybody agrees is wonderful and brilliant, would I find a little sheaf of notes telling me I'd made the right choice? Who is that Post-Itted man (or woman)?

Anyway, I put the book back, but now I kind of wish I'd brought it home with me.


Xerxes said...

An here I thought the book I am reading "Spurgeon and Hyper - Calvinism" was deep!

BTW what's with House?

They killed off the only interesting character (Amber) left on the show!

Liz said...

Well, I'm flattered that you thought I was reading was something to do with real physics. (Is calamity physics an actual thing?) It's a novel--a mystery novel, I think, though the main murder just took place, and I'm 2/3 of the way through. So we'll see. And I think you and Calvin and Spurgeon have got me beat.

(Believe it or not, I don't watch House. My FOX quota's full up with Bones.)

Xerxes said...

No I read the reviews, being an engineer it would take a LOT of extra work doing web searches on the side to get most of the references in the book you are reading. Although I have to say once the book was done I don't think I would have the feeling that reading it was time well spent!

My wife thinks I like House because his attitude remindes me of me. I am sure I DON'T KNOW what she is talking about. :-)