The House of Wisdom, Sacked (Letter to a Future Lover by Ander Monson)
In Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries (Graywolf 2015), Ander Monson gathers together dozens of brief, eclectic essays about thingums he’s discovered in library books and elsewhere: inscriptions, notes, vandalisms, diagrams, missing pages, passwords, scraps of unused paper, hate speech, love letters, highlighted passages, official seals, and catalog cards. In fact, these essays are “about” bookish ephemera in the same way that dancing is “about” moving one’s feet—which is to say, sure, in a technical sense, although Monson wants more than to merely tap dance in the margins of forgotten and abused library books. Rather, he uses the discovery of these strange specimina as occasion to explore a host of ideas in orbit around the themes of the human need to preserve and codify, the relationship between readers and books, the transience and destructive force of time, and connectivity—all which he examines with a sensitivity to language and feeling that is as thrilling and moving as poetry.
Ander Monson, Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries. Published by Graywolf Press (2015). 160 pages.
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