Thursday, June 23, 2016


R. A. Lafferty, Pennies by Anthony Ryan Rhodes

They were beautiful, musty unknowns.

There was a period, just before I left Tulsa, where I frequented antique shops. Mainly, I looked for odd photographs. Most Tulsa shop owners didn’t ask much for old pictures, not like they do here in Florida.

I looked for photos and I looked for odd old books, ones I never intended to read (I didn’t look for R. A. Lafferty novels. I didn’t know they existed.) I found and I brought home many books with cloth bindings and warn edges that carried an air musty dignity that my shiny comic book collection could not and that went well with all the old photographs now populating the walls of my apartment.

Most of these old books were mysteries until you opened them. Along the spine the ink was flaked or faded, the indention smooth.

I wonder if this is why Ray made his own spines, crowding his office with shelf upon shelf of tombs with yellow tape and bold handwritten titles. His eyesight wasn’t the best. We know that.

When they cleared out his office, most of Ray’s books wound up in places where they served no function, mostly due to Ray’s spines. Regardless of their intellectual contents (and their previous owner), school librarians would not keep them on the shelves and bookstores could not move them, not for more than a few coins.

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