Camille's Pivate Library

It's not difficult to find the exterior alley-entrance to Camille's Green Man library; not so difficult, if you know just where to brush aside the thick glossy leaves of evergreen ivy which threaten to swallow the existence of the old painted planks of the rounded wooden door. The shiny, beetle-like carapace of the black buzzer for after-hours deliveries of linen-wrapped tomes sits nestled in brick beside the iron handle of the exit, used for late-night, fumbling departures of Green Man staff, leaving bleary-eyed and sleepy from hours of post-midnight reading and casual tippling.

Camille, in a perhaps over-enthusiastic bout of literary egalitarianism, declared her library free of the shackles of genre-classification. 'No library of mine is going to be splintered into so-called 'genres',' she said. 'Genre categorization is -- well, I was going to call it a tool of the patriarchy, but let's call it marketing and distribution, instead.' So we agreed; let's. Punk-rock habits die hard, admits Camille, and rigid genre smacks too hard of arbitrary authority for her not to question its value.

Camille shelves her books by author. 'We're not trying to hawk product here,' she says, placing one hand on her kilted hip and narrowing her eyes into the dust-moted, sunlit room. 'All right, we could section off fiction from non-fiction from cookbooks. And comics might need their own shelves for archiving and storage purposes . . . But no fiction subgenres! My main criterion for the works here is good, right?'

Now that we've got that settled . . . ambience. 'I like a little genuine reading going on in my library, so people have got to want to hang out for awhile or forever,' she explains, plumping a worn velveteen cushion. The room is generously supplied with big, comfy chairs, with no harsh overhead lighting (Camille: 'I'm perversely averse to ceiling fixtures') and coffee tables solid enough to prop the feet on. And Camille was most insistent upon the draft beer taps and espresso machine in the corner. We're always careful with the books, never fear; we mind our pints and our demitasse. 'Quality of life, people,' says Camille with almost unseemly satisfaction, settling back with Anansi Boys and a pint of stout and propping her over-sized boots on the hardy table before her; 'Quality of life. . . .'

And of course, the books. Strangely, Camille is vastly less concerned about the actual books. 'I'm egalitarian,' she says. 'I'm genre-dextrous. I'm always willing to give something new a try.' So Camille's library is eternally open to submissions. She admits she's glad to be merely the designer here, and not the librarian or the acquisitions committee.

However, when pressed, she says this: 'I humbly submit to the Green Man Private Library Acquisitions Committee for consideration the complete works of the following authors (in no particular order); Neil Gaiman, Barry Hughart, Emma Bull, Orson Scott Card, Richard Brautigan, C.S. Lewis, Georgette Heyer, Doris Piserchia, David Sedaris, Ursula K. LeGuin, Margaret Atwood, Edgar Allan Poe, Peter S. Beagle, Steve Erickson, Shirley Jackson, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Austen, Patrick O'Brien, Raymond Carver, Marion Zimmer Bradley, George R.R. Martin, Jaime & Gilbert Hernandez (Complete Love & Rockets and Palomar collections), Richard Adams, Carl Hiaasen, Larry McMurtry, Connie Willis, Roger deV. Renwick, Scott O'Dell, Edward Gorey and Erica Jong.'

And she asks that the rest of us please throw in any magical, mystical weirdness that transcends the boundaries of the ordinary. 'I'm sure I've forgotten, or never been exposed to, so very many wonderful things,' says Camille. 'Enlighten me.'