Prospecting in the children’s library

“Truth to tell, I never felt I really belonged in the adult library, and I wonder now if that’s because the loss of human space figured the even more important loss of books as stories. I was not ready to give up stories. If I didn’t actually read all the children’s books, I read every one I checked out—from the first word to the last. Today the only books I still read that way are mysteries. I am a proper grown-up about all the books and journals I use in my work. Like a good librarian, I order and maintain them, and even replace those that disappear. They are shelved according to topic in alphabetical order. I can almost always find what I’m looking for. But the mysteries are shelved to replicate the children’s library, or at least my memory of it. I am not usually looking for any one in particular, and so I read what catches my eye. And when I want a particular book, I tear the shelves apart looking for it, happier than I care to admit wallowing in the stacks of books surrounding me.”

—Linda Brodkey, “Writing on the Bias” (1994)

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