When I walk in the door Monday morning I am greeted by a flood of donations that have appeared, mysteriously, in my absence. They are in piles in the bins, overflowing the sides. Two good-natured volunteers are also usually there, panning for gold, as it were. They’ll fill up a nice little cart and I’ll go through it to see if any of the items can replace our grubby copies on the shelf. This is a good way to go about things, and once in a while you get a real treasure. Take a look at this:
Doesn’t look like much, does it? When I saw it on the cart I knew exactly what it was, though. Before a book is published for posterity the publisher will create review copies. These are sent to potential blurbers (famous writers who will offer complimentary quotes) and review journals as well. A galley is never to be sold and is actually not particularly prized by rare book dealers, which I’ve always found a bit funny considering their rarity.
I took this one and then opened it up. That’s when I saw this tucked inside:
June 11, 2003
Thank you for making the time read my book. I know you must be very busy now with the lovely success of your book; congratulations. I don’t know if you remember me. I was a student in one of your creative writing classes, around 1983 or so. Anyway, thanks for embarking on this. If you can’t blurb it, that’s okay – but I would love it if you feel you can.
No word on whether or not Jim ever blurbed the book or not. Nor are there any clues as to who “Jim” was in the first place. He must have been local, or the book wouldn’t have arrived in our bin. There are no markings in the book itself.
So there’s your mystery, readers! Find Jim! In the meantime, I think I’m going to start a collection of fun ephemera here at the library. This little book is a piece of history, whether it wants to be or not.