May 17th, 2009


written on James Patterson flyleaves

Last night we had dinner at Timprov's cousins' house, and somehow I came round in the conversation to the fact that I'm reading all of my grandfather's books. "Louis L'Amour, Robert Ludlum," I said, "I hope I like them, because I have a lot of them ahead of me." Timprov's cousin Tom blinked at me and said, "You seem obsessively principled."

I don't know. I don't know that it's obsessively principled, but I don't know that I want to argue with that, either. On their last trip up from Omaha, Mom and Dad brought four more boxes of Grandpa's books with them, and I'm cataloging those this evening. They got the James Patterson shelves. James Patterson has written a lot of books (for some values of "written": some of them have co-authors who may have done the lion's share of the work), and I now own most of them. And it is very important to me right now to go through and sort them properly, so that I know which ones are series books and which are stand-alones, so that I get the series books in the right order.

My grandpa's handwriting in The Thomas Berryman Number reports, "Christmas 1996. Deb, Dan, & Marissa." In The Midnight Club the front cover has a carefully taped-in Christmas tag, a gingerbread woman holding hands with a tomte, and it reads, "To Grandpa, From Marissa," and I am already making the printed a's like a typed a rather than a script a, but it is not "From Marissa and Mark," so it was sometime between 1993 and 1996. In 1st to Die, a note, "From Deb & Dan," and a mailing label that says, "SMSgt Richard W. Adams," and his first Omaha address. Further back was a different eagle-globe-and-anchor mailing label in one, a note "From David M." (my godfather) in another.

It is so important to me to get this right. It is not the crazy kind of important. I know that I will not, by reading his books in the proper order, get my grandpa back. I know that he wouldn't have been mad at me if I didn't want to read them at all. He wouldn't have minded a bit. I know all of that. It's not that it's important for some external reason. It's that it's intrinsically important to me right now. There are things you get right not because it gets you something else but because you do. You just do.