Thursday, August 6, 2009
Real Good for Free
(Anyone else remember that old Joni Mitchell song?)
A nice hardback copy of this book arrived this week through PaperbackSwap.com, an upgrade for my Orange Prize collection. I read this one a while back, and am happy now to have a good copy on hand.
This one is a first edition, in good condition, though nothing spectacular. Someone wrote in the front and someone else--I'm assuming a different person--saw fit to scribble out the inscription in thick black marker. Why they thought that would be an improvement over the inscription, I don't know. Perhaps the inscription wasn't very nice. Perhaps they had a falling out with its writer. Perhaps they borrowed the book, failed to return it, and decided to cover their tracks. Perhaps my imagination is a tad too vivid.
The front of the book jacket has a slash near the lower right corner, repaired with clear tape. It looks like maybe whoever opened the packing box was too enthusiastic with the box cutter. At first I was a little disappointed at such an obvious flaw; I prefer my books pristine, when possible. But on further reflection, I rather like it. The "idea of perfection" in the title and in the book's major theme comes from the Amish belief that perfection is God's bailiwick, and so every quilt, no matter how carefully made, should have a little mistake in it somewhere.
Now it seems extraordinarily fitting that this copy isn't perfect. The book's physical properties embody its contents, and how often does that happen? It's still real nice, and the price was right.