06 August 2006

The Solace of Leaving Early

I recently read a wonderful book, Haven Kimmel's The Solace of Leaving Early with my real-world book club. I enjoyed it so much that I recommended it to my online club. Most of the online members are in the Uk, however, and have had some trouble finding it. I logged on last night to see what people were saying was particularly enjoyed this reply. I think you will too.

There's something about librarians that, even now, puts me on my best behaviour. Memories of the junior class crocodile trooping into the local library and being awed by the elderly ladies who could silence 40 children with one "shh". They inhabited a strange world behind the tall counter, a world inhabited by card indexes and rubber stamps. Maybe they lived in the library, roaming the shelves at night and sleeping in the inner sanctum where ordinary mortals never entered.

Now, of course, libraries are different places, and most librarians look refreshingly normal. Some are even men, for heaven's sake! I approached one of the bright young things at the information desk.

"Do you have 'The Solace of Leaving Early'?"

"No", she replied, "I'm here till 7 when we close."

I gave an embarrassed smile and scuttled off to find another of the species. This one was more in the traditional mould and would have been recognized anywhere for what she was.

"I'm looking for 'The Solace of Leaving Early'."

She adjusted her ear trumpet and thought for a while before replying "'The Importance of Being Earnest'?"

We established that no, it was a different title, and that there were three copies in Cheshire, all of which were booked out and unlikely to be available for some time. Our library concentrates on the classics of literature - Jilly Cooper, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Danielle Steele - so doesn't always have space for the more quirky volumes such as this.

My next stop was a popular high street bookseller where the staff are all impossibly young and good-looking. I mentioned the title to one of them. He disappeared into the basement and returned shortly with 'So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish', an undoubtedly worthy volume, but not quite what I wanted. Although, coincidentally, the song refers to the dolphins who left early, by their own means, before the Earth was unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspatial bypass.

BTW, someone has offered to send the guy a copy from the US, so finally, he will, indeed, find some solace!

No comments: