Sweet Mysteries of Life | Newberry

Sweet Mysteries of Life

I should thank you, I suppose, for making sure my life is interesting. January can be a dull, gray time of year: we’ve finished with the whole Halloween-on holidays, the clouds seem to be closing in, and although there are holidays ahead television commercials seem to be most intent on reminding us we need to do our taxes. It is kind of you to take the time to make sure a Book Fair Manager’s job does not get too routine.

Those little green boxes are intriguing. They are not utter mysteries, because you kept them well, and the labels are intact. But since I have no idea what they’re talking about, the labels do not explain what all this technical equipment is useful for…IF they’re useful at all and not simply obsolete in this day of digital doodaddery.

I actually love those little collections you drop off sometimes of pictures cut from magazines, Victorian trade cards, and images cut from the sides of pornographic video boxes. I can read “Graphic Artist Picture File” all over these folders and envelopes, labeled or not, and it makes for a good browse, as well as an opportunity to make some money off of little slips of paper.

Speaking of which, the person whose fourth grade report cards came in should be aware that IF you ever run for public office, your page of straight Cs will go to the highest bidder. You have been warned.

And whoever donated that pepper grinder which is not a pepper grinder but might be a chess piece or a character from an antique dollhouse or…. We’re still working on it. With any luck, you’ll see it on the morning news “Missing piece from Smithsonian’s Moby Dick board game turns up at Chicago library!”

All these little mysteries add joy and excitement to the day. But I’m rather proud of my ability to find out information about books. Why did you have to throw me off by giving us a book that doesn’t exist?

It’s a handsome thing: hardcover with a dust jacket and everything. It was printed by one of those “Give Us Money, We’ll Print Your Book” outfits, which did a really professional job. It is a book of photography, and came in with a collection of rather rare and exciting photography books, but nothing to compare with this one. This one, as noted, almost doesn’t exist.

I have mentioned this hereintofore: in the old days, if you couldn’t find a book listed anywhere in your collection of book price guides, it meant either that the book was so rare no one had a copy or so unutterably common that no one would bother with it. The Interwebs has done away with that. NO book is too common to get listed for sale online.

This book is not listed on any of the websites I check for prices. Amazon will usually at least have a listing but say the book is out of stock. Nothing doing. Vialibri, which lists all the books on Amazon as well as those of thousands of other booksellers, does not give it any space. The book came out in 2007, but the author does NOT have a website where he will sell you a copy. WorldCat, which tells you nothing about prices but will tell you which libraries worldwide hold a book, has a single listing for it: a library in Poland has the only other copy of this book in the whole wide world. (Unless the author gives this book only to friends and none of them has given it up. OR this IS the only copy in the world, which someone swiped from the library in Poland and flew to Chicago so it could be donated to make my days merry and bright.)

The book is by Tomasz Pik, or Tomek Pik, a photographer/filmmaker who has done other books. This one is Dyskretny urok Japonii, which is translated inside as The Discrete Charms of Japan. I believe he meant Discreet, but it’s perfectly permissible to use the word Discrete in this spot, if that’s what you want to say. He and Mariola Pik have produced films on the Diskertny urok of other places or things, but the DVDs for these are not what concerns me. (WorldCat informs me there IS a DVD of Diskretny urok Japonii, but lists NO libraries for it.)

You MAY find this at the Book Fair or I may list it for sale online. All I have to do is think of a price. If it’s the only copy in the world NOT held by libraries in Poland, any price I put on it will be the lowest price available.

Thanks for making my life interesting (if you made it profitable as well, I’ll thank you again.)

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