Books are containers for ideas and flourishes of language. But they're also objects, which can be lost or found or damaged.
(My favourite form of book-damage is when books are dropped in the bath and go all wavey, the pages suddenly not able to contain both ideas AND water...)
I think it's strange and funny how The Sentimentalists in particular keeps drifting in and out of my life.
First, I was supposed to advocate for Joanna Skibsrud's debut at a local Giller Gala from one of the Gaspereau originals. The press told the bookstore hosting the event that it would "very definitely be there tomorrow" on several different occasions.
The bookstore dutifully told me that the book would "very definitely be there tomorrow" on several different occasions.
I read the book in PDF format the day before/the day of the gala. And so made several bad jokes in a row instead of offering any kind of trenchant analysis of the book.
When I was next at Aqua Books, which passes for my place of work, I got an email from a writer who'd adjudicated a prize that The Sentimentalists had been entered in.
Saying that it had been donated to the store along with the rest of the masses of books she didn't want to keep MONTHS ago.
And so had been on the shelf this whole time.
Also, since she hadn't actually meant to donate that one, could she have it back?
Then, this past week, my sister emailed me and mentioned, off-handedly, that she had taken up active reading again (she has a toddler, get it?) and had bought The Sentimentalists at Costco and was almost done and did I want it...
This being the new Douglas & McIntyre edition, of course. And I recognized an opportunity.
You see, several months ago, I came to the conclusion that all my/our books would not fit in the much-reduced space we had for bookshelves in our new-ish house, and culled several boxes' worth.
This was surprisingly painless. Especially given the fact that I had previously gritted my teeth at the prospect of getting rid of books AT ALL. (I'm a writer! Writers are meant to have heaps of books!)
We'd gotten rid of most of the culls, but one box had come to rest at the top of the stairs and hadn't moved for a few weeks. So I hauled it downstairs onto the (screened) front porch, where it got snowed on a little bit. (Ahem.)
And then, the next day, traded my sister an ENTIRE box of Can-lit classics for a single copy of The Sentimentalists. Except I didn't tell her we were trading. I just hauled the box into her entryway and plunked it down.
Strangely, I didn't want to rifle through and see what I was gifting her with. Doubles of beloved books, probably. Books I'd bought but never read and now seemed dubious about reading, most likely.
So now The Sentimentalists sits on a little table outside my bedroom. Where water glasses go before they get taken downstairs. Where books I've read or am dubious about reading go before making their way upstairs to my office or into the pile next to my bed...or, I suppose, into a new box of culls.
I haven't decided if I'm going to re-read The Sentimentalists. But I like the journey I've taken and not-taken with this book, so I think I'll keep it.