Sunday, 17 May 2015


Stop me if you've heard this one, or indulge me, because I am going somewhere with it.

Back around the turn of the century, I bought a box of books about 70s politics at the Santa Monica public library. I got them home and, opening one after the other, discovered that they’d all been obsessively underlined by a lunatic or a monkey, or possibly both.  Some crazed ape had read the hell out of them, and kept finding more and more interlocking evidence of, well, something. Heavy black ink, boxes and stars and annotations and cross references: “NIXON!”, “RUSK AGAIN” “RAND, SEE P. PAPERS”, “FPFCUBA.” At the same sale, I bought a biography of Norman Bethune, and when I opened it at home, I found a letter inside from Donald Sutherland to Oliver Stone.  The book was a gift from Sutherland to Stone, you see. Which explained the other books.  They frantic simian who’d underlined them was Stone. 

The Bethune book was not marked up.

Because no one reads a gift book.

My Rohmers are similarly defaced.  I’ll probably burn them, so the kids don’t use them as evidence that I should be locked up.  Boxes and stars and annotations and cross-references.

But not E.P. Taylor.  My first note is on page 167.

We live in an age of hyperbole.  That’s the nature of click-bait Internet writing. “What this hamster does will change your life!”  But I’ve given this some thought and this is the least interesting book I’ve ever read.

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