Saturday, 11 October 2014

This Particular Book

Writing about one of his prize possessions—a first edition of William T. Vollmann's The Rainbow Stories (1989) signed over to a pathologist named Dr. Lester Adelson—Michael Lapointe assesses the power of certain ghost-ridden objects to take over our imagination:
When I read the inscription, or hold The Rainbow Stories in my hands—in fact, when I simply see its spine on the shelf, and am reminded of it—I envision a young Vollmann and an old Adelson, the prolific emerging writer and the storied, perhaps secretive pathologist, keenly observing the dissection of a corpse. Perhaps the horrific sensibility is more important than value-neutral accuracy, because I smell formaldehyde, and see the cold, diagnostic light of the room, and the silver scalpel, and it might seem, in this moment, that I'm being drawn backward in time. But in reality—that is, in my imagination—it's the memory of this peculiar moment, a memory housed in this particular book and nowhere else, that is drawing forward, toward me.

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