Bibliofurcation

  1. A kind friend sent me a Dymo label puncher for Christmas.  Shout out to ‘Kath from Brighton’ here.
  2. I have just moved into a flat with a bookcase.

AH!  The conjunction!  For the first time in my life I can pull the safety release cords on a dangerous desire to subcategorize and micromanage.

I pretty much threw open the suitcase and half my book collection settled into thirty-four generic and formal divisions.  It’s making me dewy-eyed just looking at it; a home-made classification system chaotic enough to make Dewey himself cry.  There’s a lovely pun in there somewhere.

 

  1. Shakespeare: the main man (Hamlet, on top, possibly against his wishes; Macbeth, buried at bottom, definitely against his)
  2. Early Modern drama featuring skulls and/or wigs (Three Revenge Tragedies on top)
  3. Precious quarterlies and specious gubbins, assorted.
  4. Poetry (Thom Gunn’s Positives and Alice Oswald’s Dart on top)
  5. Knitting, puppet-making and automata building (Elizabeth Zimmermann’s seminal work, Knitter’s Almanac, on top, BUTOFCOURSE)
  6. Whimsy and WTF  (on top: The New Week-End Book, published in 1955, featuring everything you’d never want to read on weights and measures, etiquette, “Fields and the Beasts Thereof”, “The Green and Pleasant Land and How it Came to Be So”, a “kalendar” of wild flowers, isometric views of Levenham Church, “Qualities” – an obscene section that asks a little too much of the reader and their friendships and  finally a rousing selection of roundels for the whole family.)
  7. Fiction, A-Z (Anne Michaels, B.S.Johnson and Mervyn Peake floating about on the top of the stack there).
  8. Short stories
  9. Science books about art (on top: Esther Leslie’s Synthetic World: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry)
  10. Art books about science (on top: Dream Machines, catalogue for the Haywood Gallery’s touring exhibition of the same name)
  11. Automata, robots and machines (on top: Gaby Wood’s Living Dolls)
  12. Drama I bought before 2009.
  13. Books in solid, untranslated, saturated French.  What was I thinking?  (Jean Genet sitting smugly on top)
  14. Utopias and Dystopias (Sarah Scott’s Millenium Hall on top, Margaret Cavendish’s Blazing World snug underneath the thick terror of New Atlantis and Le Petit Prince)
  15. People writing things about themselves and what they can see (Umberto Eco sprawling about on top)
  16. People writing things about writing (George Steiner poised next door)
  17. Graphic novels and photo essays (Dennis Cooper’s and Nayland Blake’s Jerk on top.  If you’re interested, there is a terrifying dramatisation of this work brought to you by Gisèle Vienne and a panda puppet.)
  18. SF
  19. Anthologies (on top: Parabola, bought from Jam Records, a shop and cafe in Falmouth – bigtime recommended)
  20. Sad plays written by Greek men a while ago
  21. The Secret and Sometimes Sexy Diaries of Various Anchorites (Saint Julian riding high)
  22. Alliterative Verse written by Unidentified Middle English Poets Upset about Dead Daughters and Other Stories
  23. Treaties, manifestos and documents
  24. As the top book suggests, Books of Words (dictionaries and glossaries, though few as outrageous as Ivor Brown’s Book of Words, which, in a pitch-perfect impersonation of Stephen Fry’s impersonation of a posh man besotted with words, celebrates the Lancashire word “Frisgig” for effectively capturing “the friskiness and giggles of a lively, vapid miss”, likening it to the Elizabethan word “giglot” for “tittering, romping wench”.  Dear Ivor decides that we are all in need of more available words for all these “infuriating…titterers” he finds about himself.)  In reply to Ivor Brown’s definition of “Frisgig”, I give you ‘Fizgig‘, a character with whom I resonate right now.  And my second Dark Crystal reference this post.
  25. Nature.  (on top: The Observer’s Book of Larger British Moths, a great pocket read)
  26. Bodies (I really do have multiple books on specific body parts.  Visible is a book on bums.  Not visible, sadly, is The Nose, a grand historical assessment of the beak.  It might have been inconsiderate placing these two books so close together).
  27. Visual Culture
  28. Inqueery (Reign (Rain?) of the Phallus, visible)
  29. Puppets, manikin, living statues (crossovers with 11)
  30. Literary Criticism
  31. Cook books (featuring the classic Cranks recipe book)
  32. Chaucer, The Hits: 1343-1400
  33. Literary Theory (Barthes, eating shorts out of my suitcase there)
  34. Tragedy theory (I’m still on the look out for a copy of Tragedy in Transition for less than the price of my shiny, golden arm and leg set.  If you see one, let me know and I’ll treat you to a handshake from the glittering arm).
  35. My poor, over-burdened suitcase that, until recently, was tasked with containing my life for an indefinite number of months.

So yeah.  There you have it, an unforgiveably dull post.

Looking at this pile of books, many of which are still unread, I’ll leave with some words from Aughra, of Dark Crystal fame, “Huh! Listen Gelfling. There is much to learn and you have no time.”

6 comments
  1. Just lovely! Sounds like you have a great little collection there. Brave of you to attempt categorizing — I find that task daunting, so my at home library remains chaos exemplified.

    • hcc said:

      Thanks! It didn’t go as smoothly as planned. When some books slide about between so many different categories I start to think I need a shelf system that works like a Rubik’s cube. You might be wise to leave it to chaos.

  2. Cassie said:

    This is amazing. And incredible. And the chaos that I lived in just took a big gulp – I wish I had the energy to do that. PS. love the categories.

  3. hcc said:

    Ha, yes! The Dymo label puncher came with a second ribbon colour, which worryingly encouraged me to want more, and more ridiculous, subdivisions. When I have another bout of enthusiasm I might introduce labels for sections like ‘Middle English Dream Poetry Featuring Talking Ducks Wearing Hats’. That, admittedly, is a small section.

  4. I don’t think this is a dull post at all! Most fascinating. Want to read more of your writing.

    • hcc said:

      I am happy you think so. With a steady influx of books, there may have to be a follow-up to this post in the future. Uh oh.

      And thanks for following and for popping by to comment – I’ll be sure to get some more of my writing on the blog soon.

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