When the town aches,
the Swinster Pharmacy aches with it.
– #11 of 29 Myths On The Swinster Pharmacy
The late Jorge Luis Borges was a lying rat. At the beginning of his career, back in the 1930s, he wrote a series of historical pieces for an Argentine newspaper, profiling people who included the American outlaw hero Billy the Kid. And in that series, Borges made stuff up.
Had he been a journalist, he’d never have worked again. Instead, as a writer of fiction, as a poet, as one of the founders of magical realism, he is acclaimed the world over.
One of Borges’ many short stories is titled The Library Of Babel. Its infinite shelves are filled with every book ever written, past and future. Plus every combination: “[T]hose that make sense and completely absurd ones, works that group meaningless sequences of letters compiled into random arrangements with no purpose whatsoever. Everything that has been and will be thought can be found in a forsaken corner of the endless library.” (That’s from an NPR appreciation of that now classic tale.)
The infinite library contains the whole of the word, and of the world.
We hope to read the books that can help us decipher the word and the world. But gosh, there sure are a lot of them.
That’s why libraries take such care in choosing books. The Lennoxville Library adds to its collection regularly, but our Adopt A Book campaign is a major fundraiser. It launches Thursday, October 2 from 7 pm to 8:30 pm (light refreshments will be served). You’ll find displayed some of the best books our staff and volunteers have discovered in the last year, books from every genre that we think you will love. We ask you to buy the books on display, and donate them to us. You get to read them first, then everybody gets to read them.
What’s on offer? Louise Penny, Preston and Child, Susan Hill, Jefferson Bass, Margaret Atwood, Ken Follett, Ann Perry, Ian Rankin. The list is much longer. Come by and browse! (The books will be on display for three days, from Thursday night to Saturday the 4th.)
We will also have a delightful selection of books for younger readers.
How about One Dog And His Boy (by Eva Ibbotson, 2011, $6.75). Hal’s parents love him, but they are self-absorbed rotters. They give him expensive gifts instead of love.
All Hal wants is a dog, but his parents consider the idea appalling. Finally, they rent one for the weekend, but they lie to him about it. They expect Hal to quickly tire of the wee beastie. Instead, he falls in love.
Doesn’t matter. The pup is returned to a high-end canine rental place (where the dogs despair of ever being happy). Hal then decides to steal “his” dog and run away. The regular weekend attendant is off sick, and he runs into 10-year-old replacement worker Pippa instead: “Thank goodness my sister’s not here,” Pippa announces once she hears Hal’s plan. “She’s one of those good people. She can’t help it, she thinks you mustn’t break the law.”
“I used to be like that,” replies Hal.
This is a love letter to dogs, filled with wise but lonely canines who want real homes. It’s also the story of the two children, who try to survive while on the run, as they too, search for a real home for Hal and his adorable mongrel. This story’s for anyone who loves doggies.
Dogs are not the only pet.
If You Happen To Have A Dinosaur (words by Linda Bailey, pictures by Colin Jack, 2014, $15) is a big, colourful hardcover for the very young child who’s at a bit of a loss. Dinos are awkward, they take up a lot of space and they eat a lot. What to do? Turns out you can train Dino to mow the lawn or eat your homework. It’s a delightful tale.
Lemony Snicket’s latest young children’s book is 29 Myths On The Swinster Pharmacy (2014, $14, illustrated by Lisa Brown). It’s off-kilter and funny and strangely poetic. Here’s number 15: “The building is a perfect square. We measured it last night.”
And now for one last Good Read. It’s titled Nocturne: Dream Recipes Varied And Easy To Make (in just five minutes!). It’s by Isol (who goes by one name, 2012, $13.50). A beautiful spiral bound book, each page offers a different dream. Choose the idea that draws you in, pop it under a light for five minutes, and then turn the light off. Each page is now so much more – bunnies, gardening, a huggy monster that adores you: “Look for as long as you like, then close your eyes and follow the dream to its hiding place.”
One last note: The Lennoxville Library has no Borges books, but the library system does. You can order a loan through our website (or ask our staff for help). The Library Of Babel can be found in the short story collection titled Fictions, available en francais, from the library in Wotton.
– Eleanor Brown, September 26, 2014