(Has anyone ever gone over to your bookshelf, picked up a book, and said, “What is this doing here?” This series of blog posts explains some of the more curious findings on one Booklister’s home shelves.)
Look at this thing. Just look at it. This thing is a battered piece of crap. To the trash bin, you scurvy pile of paper! I mean, who would hang on to such a loused-up paperback? It’s not as if copies of Peter Straub’s Ghost Story (1979) are hard to come by. I mean, it was a bestseller made into a movie starring Fred Astaire. Fred Freaking Astaire!
Well, as you might expect, I’m rather attached to this particular scurvy pile of paper. I first read it in middle school. I loved it (especially that confrontation that takes place in a theater showing Night of the Living Dead!), but didn’t treat the book especially kindly. It got a little banged up. I had other, more important middle school matters to attend to. You know how it is.
The second time I read it, I was working as a freelance videographer shooting figure skaters in Arizona. (Don’t ask.) But I was struck down by an absolutely brutal 24-hour bout of food poisoning. (Definitely don’t ask about that.) Then, as I recuperated over the next few days, videotaping figure skaters and nibbling Saltines, it was Ghost Story I read during breaks upon the chilly ice. It got a little wet, a little wrinkled, but it–and I–survived.
The third time I read it, I was about to get married. We lived in a cramped little apartment. We had a dog who destroyed everything and especially liked to chew up my glasses. One day not long before the wedding, this dog picked Straub’s book off the table and ate a good portion of the cover. I’m sure I was tempted to throw it out. (The book, not the dog.) But no way. Some physical books still carry the property of magic. Ghost Story has seen me through a lot, and personally I can’t wait until the next indignity is thrust upon it. Because that will probably mean I’m reading it again.