Review of Old Gazette Story

While cleaning out a drawer, looking for something else, I came across a slightly yellowed article from the Billings Gazette of January 9, 2004 by a good and friendly writer from the Gazette, Donna Healy. Not surprisingly, the other people mentioned in the article seem much more interesting.

Sadly, Bill Drum has cashed in his chips. I would hope the others are doing well.

If I had the chance to do the interview over I would make the following changes: The current read is almost always about 3-4 books at a time. I just never know when one will bite me badly and hold on ’til I finish it. And, though I hate to admit it, I simply can’t remember The Nice and the Good. Iris Murdoch I remember but not that title. By the way, Donna, if you read this please note the spelling of her last name—not Murdock. A great lady, writer and philosopher.

I think I would have put in more pictures too. How many words is a picture supposed to be worth. A thousand? Ten thousand? Granted, many pictures are not worth much but some are priceless.

The thing about a library is that it changes. Just as your bedroom table has to juggle all the books you are currently reading, so too must your whole library keep the books moving, else they will become heavier and heavier ’til at last you will be unable to carry them to their final resting place.

As I age, I see that I am starting as many books as always, in fact, now that I am not working, perhaps more, but I finish quite a few less than I used to. I suspect that is because a great many books are simply not worth finishing. Perhaps that aging thing is the reason we like to see more plays than we did when younger. Even if it is bad it is over in 90 to 120 minutes. As long as you know something will eventually end, and you are sharing your misery with friends, then it is surprising how much awfulness one can put up with.

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No Country For Old Men


No Country for Old Men: My recommendation is Go see the movie! It’s good. Lots of nice ordinary people get offed though. It reminded me of Flannery O’Connor’s response to the question: Why are your characters and stories so bizarre? She said ” When you are speaking to a deaf world, you have to shout loudly.” Or something to that effect.

Those ordinary people are one of the high points. I swear they are real people, picked up off the barren plains of West Texas. Llewellyn Moss, the ordinary person who sets the whole thing in motion, is a little younger and a little more agile than I pictured from the novel. The evil psychopath is perfect and the Sheriff is the best I’ve ever seen.

No Country for Old Men: I like these Wikipedia entries. I wondered about a scene near the end where the good guy Sheriff figures out where the bad guy is hiding but then walks away. Wiki suggested that maybe the hiding place was in the Sheriff’s mind. I am glad that others had a few problems with some of the loose ends.

Books and the Shelves that Hold Them


This is a picture of my bedside table soon after one of those bi-weekly cleaning and organization fits overtook me, usually at the command of my first wife, Carol, aka She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Over the years we have collected a fair number of bookshelves, well, collected is not quite the right word, more like they were a necessity becoming a virtue. The picture to the left is a built-in bookcase that was an essential part of the sunroom we added about 15 years ago. I love rooms to have built-in bookshelves. If worse comes to worst, you can even allow people to put a few pictures or knick-knacks on the shelves as long as the books have someplace else to go.

I probably don’t have any pictures of our first shelves which consisted of a combination of cement blocks and parts of plywood boards. I wouldn’t be surprised if we used some cardboard boxes too, (see right) and maybe some wooden fruit crates, but I do have pictures and the originals of almost all shelves since my student days.

My favorites are the “lazy susans” that you can pile on top of each other to as high as you care to go I suppose. See left. I remember how excited I was when I first saw them in the Levenger catalog, you know, the only one that has any useful things in it at all. That reminds me: I bought some 3X5 cards from them with my name and address on which they used in their advertising. I got two extra Xmas cards that year from friends I hadn’t heard from in a long time, each one commenting that he had seen my name in a Levenger catalog. So those advertising people may have a point.

We sometimes wonder what kind of people can live in a house with no bookshelves। Well, I suppose you can borrow every single book you read, or give it away after you do, but that doesn’t seem quite right, does it?

I can’t think of a single room in our house that doesn’t have at least a few books, even the smallest rooms, yes I think even the closets and the garage, the latter because that is the marshalling space for books on their way to being donated or recycled in some manner. See left.

“They also serve who only sit on their shelves and wait,” with apologies to John Milton I think.

A good friend who is really a master craftsman, especially with wood, did some interior re-modeling for us about 20 years ago, including some shelves and storage places below in our family room. Here is a picture to the right.

As you can see, Carol gets to use this space quite a bit too. The storage space is below, including a place for a TV. Of course, what can one do with large books that don’t fit conveniently in ordinary bookshelves? The easiest solution is to just pile them up in a neat way of course, like across the room next to the fireplace in the family room.

Or you can look for an end table that is better than just a place to put a lamp.

I’m pretty sure that these were screwed into the wall when we moved in to 3033 Ramada Drive. When I pointed out that I expected them to stay, the former owner’s kid quickly went to the living room and the bedroom to rip out a bunch of speakers that he had fastened to the wall, so we lived with loose wires high on the walls for some years before finally fixing that problem.

I think Mike Brown, the leader of the Band of Renown, put in some similar shelves on a wall in our bedroom, soon after moving in I would guess.

Probably about 12 or 15 years ago I was moseying around Billings Nursery antique shop and saw this absolutely beautiful cherry free standing bookshelf. Right.

I didn’t even look at the price tag it was so stunningly beautiful, nor would I take even the chance of haggling over the price. This picture doesn’t really do it justice. It stands in our upstairs hallway. I like to keep my favorite books there because it is so beautiful.

Have I forgotten any places or shelves? Yes, I haven’t even mentioned our lovely teak shelves from Denmark in the Dining Room formerly known as the Living Room. We found these at the Base Exchange in Upper Heyford while I was serving with Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force in the early 70s. They fit together in various ways, similar to the ones sold by Levenger, so they are very flexible. So there is a wall in the Dining Room, (see the picture to the left) a short wall next to our bed, and the leftovers in my basement lair. And then almost finally, there is the wet bar in the family room, above right, which doesn’t serve very well as a bar but does do a fair job in holding volumes of the Library of America. And various glasses, knick-knacks, and all sorts of odds and ends on their way to some other place when I can figure out where they should go.

A few more odds and ends are scattered around. There is an end table from Levenger in our bedroom, as well a bedframe that actually holds a few books as well.

I almost forgot Carol’s place for cooking books, and some scattered barrister’s bookshelves they call them I think. I found some more books in the unfinished part of the basement. I wonder how bad a book has to be to wind up down there? A neat little trapezoidal table that also could hold a few books was noted in a quick survey of the house. Of course, I haven’t even thought about the shelves in my office at the hospital. This is getting embarrassing.

There is a nice coffee-table book about living with books and their shelves, called At Home with Books by Ellis, Seebohm and Sykes. Another book of interest along these lines is Susan Susanka’s The Not-So-Big House.