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Your favourite childhood book, perhaps?
February 9, 2012 6:11 AM   Subscribe

All the books in the world. Except one.
posted by jbickers (30 comments total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

 
Double, unfortunately.

all the posts in the world…
posted by zamboni at 6:17 AM on February 9, 2012


wow, that was heartbreaking.
posted by oddman at 6:18 AM on February 9, 2012


Hmm. Well, perhaps this one can be allowed to live since the link is gone from that 2008 post?
posted by jbickers at 6:21 AM on February 9, 2012


What a neat little thing. I was expecting more, but then I realised it's just as long as it needs to be. Bravo!
posted by Drexen at 6:23 AM on February 9, 2012


(Which, incidentally, is what she said.)
posted by Drexen at 6:24 AM on February 9, 2012 [16 favorites]


Goddammit, I'm gonna start crying at work.
posted by notsnot at 6:29 AM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess I was hoping for a "Disney-ending"... something happier :(
posted by achpea at 6:35 AM on February 9, 2012


No. No. Nonononononono.

I am not clicking on that. Not again. I can't start crying at work. I can't. I can't.

Oh fuck. I'll be in the men's room.

God damn you, jbickers.
posted by SansPoint at 6:37 AM on February 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Very poignant. Regrets are the only regret I have...
posted by bmorrison at 6:39 AM on February 9, 2012


Nice. Thanks jbickers, I'll be showing this to my illustration students in class today.
posted by Mcable at 6:43 AM on February 9, 2012


*sniffle*
posted by brilliantine at 6:46 AM on February 9, 2012


Lovely.
posted by BrodieShadeTree at 6:52 AM on February 9, 2012


I have 9 minutes to get myself back together and be all Mr. Serious Lawyer Man for my 10:00. Should be enough. Deep breaths.
posted by The Bellman at 6:52 AM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I remember this from when it was posted a few years ago — I still love this little graphical vignette by Macan and Celanovic. Despite the emotions of regret summoned by this, every time I encounter this my rational mind can't help but think of Russell's paradox.
posted by RichardP at 7:06 AM on February 9, 2012


Darko Macan's written two of my most favorite comics EVAR: Soldier X, a strange and beautiful take on Cable, he of the big guns and shoulder pads, and Grendel Tales: Devils & Deaths, which, as well as being ripping yarn, with its post-apocalyptic warrior clans and lightsabres and hoverbikes, is a deeply moving rumination of the Yugoslav Wars and family and responsibility.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:10 AM on February 9, 2012


I remember reading this a few years ago. It's nice to see it again.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:13 AM on February 9, 2012


Can't get the link to work (either one of the links actually), is there another site?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:22 AM on February 9, 2012


Perfect.
posted by odinsdream at 7:44 AM on February 9, 2012


I think I need to talk to my optometrist. My eyeballs seem to leak a whole lot more these days than they used to.
posted by DigDoug at 7:48 AM on February 9, 2012


I had an experience like this except with martial arts movies.

When I lived in Hell's Kitchen in Times Square, I would walk down 42nd to the subway every day. This was 12 or 13 years ago, before BB King's and the Lion King and the big movie theater and all that were there, it was right after some of it had broken ground though.

I've always been into Asian martial arts films, and I had my favorite little sellers in Chinatown where I'd find bootlegs of the latest Jacky Chan movies and such, but I had noticed a pretty similar booth on 42nd and made a mental note to check it out some time. I was usually in a hurry to get to or from somewhere when I walked by so it took me quite a while to get around to it.

Meanwhile, I had some friends back on the west coast recommend the Jet Li's "Tai Chi Master" to me and I decided to pick it up as soon as I could. (It wasn't brand new or anything, it had just been discovered by my circle of friends, it had shown at Cinema 21 in Portland I think, so it was new to us.)

One night I some had family visiting and we took a nice summer evening walk through Times Square; we had just left that intersection where Broadway and 7th split (by TKTS and all that) and were in the relative quiet of 42nd walking under some scaffolding and we all felt the buzz of the Times Square's neon energy fading. We were coming up on the movie cubbyhole, so on a whim I thought I'd cross the street to see what they had. My Danish mother-in-law and sister-in-law waited on the sidewalk while one of them smoked. I didn't tell them what I was going in for, but they didn't think it was odd that I was shopping for martial arts movies

When I stepped in, the guy who ran the shop had a huge smile on his face and his eyes were shiny as they locked onto mine. He had long dreadlocks and was burning some incense, and with a Jamaican accent, he said, "The best stuff is in the back." He guided me 8 or 10 feet into the back of the little hole-in-the-wall booth, pretty indistinguishable from any of the other similar tiny shops I went to in Chinatown on and around Canal except for the location and the proprietor.

After a moment's pause, he reached out and grabbed the lone copy Tai Chi Master off a shelf without ever looking away from my face and just handed it to me. It was the only movie that was on my mental shopping list and he had picked it out of everything in the store with no prompting whatsoever. I read the cover with confusion and after a second I just handed him some money. (It ended up being 10 bucks, just like most other bootleg spots.) He never stopped looking me straight in the eyes even when I looked away and he never stopped smiling. On the way out he said, "Come again." It was unsettling, and the memory still has a strange quality to it.

A couple weeks later, I finally talked myself into going there again, but when I stopped by after work it turned out that every business on that block had been closed and moved so they could begin demolition for the next big project. I'd walked by it every day for months without going in and it closed almost immediately after I had finally discovered it.
posted by mullicious at 8:20 AM on February 9, 2012 [23 favorites]


Jesus Christ, dude. Warn a brother.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:01 AM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never let some dizzy crazed someone tell you how to feel, no one worth keeping will ever do this. "If you love me you'll stop talking to her!"

These decisions will never leave you. Get out with yourself as soon as you can, book in hand.
posted by four panels at 9:34 AM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


....Fourpanels, did you perhaps post that in the wrong thread?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:43 AM on February 9, 2012


No, four panels did not.
posted by starvingartist at 10:02 AM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The intense power of regret.
posted by Slackermagee at 10:21 AM on February 9, 2012


Ugh, everything is relationshipfilter this time of year.
posted by modernserf at 10:34 AM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The last panel is missing.

Close-up. That shaft of light from the door falls on the shopkeeper's face, and we see a gleam in his eye. "Except one, all the books in the world." His enigmatic smile has returned, the impish grin that he wore throughout the story, the irrepressible smile he wears every day.

We notice for the first time that one shelf right behind him has a little brass placard, glinting in the moonlight. "My Books." It would never occur to any customer to reach for them without permission. On some level, unreflectively, you know that it would be a sin to try. However, since he's been kind enough to leave them on display, let's glance at some of the titles.

Bound in red, dog-eared: "We'll try it for a week, she said."

An oversized foolscap notebook: "METEO! Lessons from Tellah's sacrifice"

"Mother's last words to me." It's a volume so small as to fit in the palm of your hand, so slim that it couldn't hold more than a single page, but it is bound in gold and shining.

One whole shelf is filled with "My life: an autobiography in progress" Volumes 1-32. If you make a habit of dropping by the shop, and if you show him one of your books now and then, he might give you a peek. Volume 16 seems to have suffered quite a bit of damage. Chapters 7 and 9 ("Hello Sandra!" and "Dating Sandra, good times and bad") are both in good shape, but Chapter 8 ("Tea Time") is scorched, water damaged and has whole pages missing. What's left of its margins is filled with The Shopkeeper's immaculate handwriting, an exercise in papyrology. What was lost is lost, but whatever he could save he saved.

It would be impossible to ignore the gap on the shelf between "Principles of Playground Self Defense - Snowball" and "Applications of the Rescue Position." Certainly the Shopkeeper has not ignored the gap. It is a carefully dusted, mourned gap. All the books in the world, except one.

But his last words to us on that missing last panel are "Except one, all of the books in the world," and there's that grin again. He's had that grin since he was seventeen, when he committed himself to the impossible task of making sure no book was ever lost again. Not one of his, not one of yours. Any bookstore clerk worth her salt can shrink you to the age of ten and drop you back on the bottom of the sea; the Shopkeeper insists it's even possible to give you back the book as it was in your mother's hands. All the books except one are out there somewhere. Think of that -- how can you do anything but grin?

Is he a magician? He could very well be the Twelfth Doctor. He's got the right sense of humour and his shop is bigger on the inside. What do you think he does late at night after the shop closes? Did you notice that sock puppet of his on askMeFi hunting for a copy of "Spock Must Die!" Rumor has it that he interrupted an Ice Warrior invasion in 2235 to retrieve a tear-stained "Charlotte's Web" with an alternate ending penciled in.

I do believe there are a few volumes missing from your shelves. Mine too. "Except one, all the books in the world!" Do you want to make him a liar? Start digging. I have to warn you that I found my copy of Delbruck's History of Warfare in the Framework of Political History buried in a stack of Harlequin romances, so this may take some time.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:22 PM on February 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Are you a magician?" "I'm a bookseller, sir."
posted by KingEdRa at 5:02 PM on February 9, 2012


I can help it, I just like happy endings:



As the bookseller sits at his desk, partially illuminated by sunlight and hiding in his own memories, there is a knock at the door. A woman comes in.

"Can I help you?" he asks

"Just looking for books" she says

"And by a lucky accident you chanced upon my small store", he says. "I have many books here. In fact, I have all the books in the world, but one".

She arches an eyebrow. "All the books?"

"But one"

"Well then, I suppose I should look for something special". She pauses and stares up at the shelves. "There was... there was a special book. It was one I made myself for someone I cared for very much. I drew all the pictures and wrote all the words and... I don't know if he ever knew how much I cared for him"

The bookseller stares at her.

There is a strange magic to bookstores. There is a stranger magic to this one. Every book in the world, but one. But that's a lie. There are many books that are missing. The book you threw out deliberately. The book you destroyed. The book you sold. That book given to you by an ex-lover that you can't stand to look at anymore. These can not be found in this bookstore. Books have feelings. Reject a book and it is gone. But if you lost it or loaned it to a friend and never got it back, you might be forgiven. You might find it here. A book that was loved until it was lost? This bookstore is for those books.

"I always wonder if that book will show up in a bookstore somewhere. That, perhaps, he sold it or... I don't know. It's silly. Anyway, I always check" She smiles "I suppose that's the book you don't have, right?"

There is a strange magic to bookstores.

"I don't recall seeing that book here..." he says

Her smile slips a little "Well, I didn't think you..."

"But, sometimes it takes the right person to come looking for it and you realize it's been right there the whole time. Perhaps we should take a look. You never know. The book might be here after all... if you want to find it".
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:25 PM on February 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ow. My heart hurts now. The illustration is lovely, though.
posted by bardophile at 3:14 AM on February 10, 2012


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