Tales Half-told

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dear Maud,

Libraries are stuffed with stories, some of which inhabit the shelves. Others dirty the carpets, shatter the silence and lurk like ghosts; they are the tales half-told.

Lately, I heeded the call-number of the wild, and visited my local library, where I swept the shelves like a feather duster, hoping to be drawn into a soothing space (or lifted, at least, out of my melancholy state). Alas, my peace was perforated by blurts of blare – unmusical fanfares which seemed only to underscore the essential loneliness of the common man.

One woman discussed the sale of her house with her agent, husband and a dozen strangers. ‘I just thought you should know,’ she said.

‘By the way,’ she added. ‘I’m at the library.’ We checked. She was.

Other people intrigued me more: an oriental gent snoozing at a desk; an occidentalist propped, mute and unmoving, at a screen – for an hour, no less.

Fortunately, though, there are some numbers which cannot be called. At one of them I found a story, and I made it my own.

Yours etc.