A Certain Space in my Undermind

Saturday 22 November 2008

Kipper, who is currently traipsing wading around Indochina, briefly stayed at my house last year. She started reading my copy of The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, then slipped it into her bag one day to take to work, forgetting that it was her last day and she was heading straight from the office to Heathrow to catch a flight to Australia.
I never, ever lend books to people, no matter how good a friend they might be. Good intentions cut no ice with me. Therefore, I consider it nothing short of a miracle that I got the book back, some months later. On its journey halfway round the world in a handbag it did, however, suffer a little wear and tear.

(Left, before; right, after.)
I hate losing books. I know it’s easy enough to find another cheap secondhand paperback of the Stein novel, but I had a particular soft spot for this copy because a previous owner had left a letter between the pages. In this case, I was less anxious to get the book than the letter returned, because it’s a beauty.
It was bought at Lloyd’s in Brisbane (stamped with the bookshop’s name on the flyleaf) and had been previously owned by a Cathy Daly. She presumably owned it before Gerard Lee, because her name’s on the flyleaf while his rather passive-aggressive claim to ownership is tucked away on page six. This G. Lee is evidently the Gerard who authored the enclosed letter, when he passed it on to a friend called Lynne. I think this just beats another favourite find for best piece of found writing I’ve discovered to date.

Dear Lynne,
Here’s Alice. Not bad but it palls in part; when the war’s on.
I’m nervous again, leaving today for the big place.
(I suppose you want to know my latest emotional response – I think about you sometimes, tenderly and I think you occupy a certain space in my undermind as I go busily about)
I’m feeling better.
Went to some dirty movies yesterday, (knew the box office girl) they weren’t very nice. This is the end of the page. Gerard X
It’ll be good to get back. Take care of your body and Stephens too!