Saturday, April 30, 2005

There's an excellent

essay by Jonathan Coe at the Guardian site, about his demented long-term obsession with a film called The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Really, a must-read. (I am not at all an obsessive on this level--leave that to the Lethems and the Coes--but I am reminded of the many hours I spent during my freshman year at Harvard trying tracking down the cheap paperback book called The Velvet Underground that provided the name for my then idols; nowadays you could get it on the internet in about 2 minutes, but back then it required ingenuity and a mastery of Interlibrary Loan. Other obsessions of the teenage years: the novels of Anthony Burgess; those Del Ray science-fiction paperbacks that you used to buy at mall bookstores like Waldenbooks in the days before Barnes and Noble. The collector's bane: misleading packaging, especially the annoying habit of publishing novels under different titles in the UK and US. It all seems long, long ago... though I suppose the main difference now is that if I read a novel and want, say, to read the 5 other novels that person has published, I am reasonably likely to be able to get them all within a week or so, often at no expense to myself. My favorite thing, really, if I had to pick one, is a service called BorrowDirect that links Columbia's library to the libraries of Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Princeton, Penn and Yale. And more generally I live 2 blocks from the Columbia library so I don't have to get too anxious about not having pretty much any books pretty much as soon as I want them.)

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