Monday, February 27, 2017

Scaling Down

It's time to start shedding possessions.  Apart from the shared things, I'm fairly light on extra baggage, but there's still too much.  I don't have many clothes, and the ones I do have are mostly second-hand, but vanity & sentiment have led me to keep things I'll never wear again.  That sheer, black D&G shirt with leather cuffs - who am I kidding?  The long, black Armani coat that looks more like something a disaffected teen gunman might wear? A Harris tweed cape I haven't worn in thirty years, that now feels more Seinfeld than Highland?  But pare down I must.  I've never had much in the way of jewelry, and have given most of it away.  That one's easy. The early, seminal record collection never made it to the States, but the books? The books have traveled three continents. Books from my mother's university years, paperbacks my brother gave me when I was seven or eight - mother & brother long gone, but their presence still warm in the pages. My own college books, from a time when reading was romantic. And yes, I'm a bit of a literary snob about my collection. It's a good one.
I can only get rid of books grudgingly, one by one, telling myself that only the truest, fittest must survive - only the ones I can't imagine being without.  Reading distilled.  A late Roth doesn't escape the cut, though anything up to Pastoral is indispensable.  The more market-friendly books hit the curb, but the misfits - a cheap, crumbling Henry James (surely I'll never read Henry James again), a slim Irony (1975) - head straight for the trash. There's still a sizable number left - a lifetime of books, including a few I've had since three, or four, or five, and others that appeared just a month or two ago.
If the core of the collection were gone, I might disappear myself.

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