Book Gods

Another bookshelf came down two Sundays ago as we were eating supper. A heart-stopping double thud, and we thought a tree had fallen. But no, another waterfall of books from the toppled shelves directly beside our bed. We stood appalled in the doorway, Mark and I and our tall son, who happens to be home for a few weeks.

“The book gods have turned against us,” Mark said. “Literature,” I said, “is putting its boots to me. Or Kindle. Kindle is on my case.” Our son, bending down to pick up the books, said evenly, kindly, “Or is it possible a shelf can take only so much weight?”

The gods. Mark is in the middle of reading The Odyssey. The other day I finished The Iliad in the great translation by Robert Fagles. The same day a friend came for lunch, heartbroken by the end of a love affair, devastated, ashamed, humiliated, incredulous at the amount of grief she feels. Where does it come from? Her shrink answered, “From your mother. Unresolved issues with your mother. That’s why you feel so abandoned.”

The Greeks knew better. The gods are responsible. They shoot an arrow through your heart and there is nothing you can do about it. The little shits.

On the other hand, our tall son was right: there is only so much weight a bookshelf can take.

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