'I can remember the title, author, and location of every book in this library, Matthew. Every book that's ever been dreamed. Every book that's ever been imagined. Every book that's ever been lost. Millions upon millions of them. That's what I remember. It's my job. Other things. . . I forget sometimes.'-- Lucien in Sandman -- 'The Kindly Ones'
MacKenzie here. One moment while I feed Hamish, our resident hedgehog, his live grubs. I keep trying to convince him to try woodworms, but a hedgehog is not an innovator. Unfortunately. There, now we can talk. . . .
The number of patrons of our Library always jumps dramatically when the evenings start getting colder. Now, understand that all of the staff here are voracious readers, a fact not at all surprising to me. Mind you, there's a fair number of dilettantes among the scholars: the Reference shelves aren't as trafficked as I'd like to see. This lot has its collective head in the clouds and its collective arse on a faerie mound as often as not.
Of course, the overstuffed leather chairs near the well-stoked fireplace in the Robert Graves Memorial Reading Room invite long sittings on cold nights. And one can learn all one needs to know about what is going on around here, over a cup of tea and a tatty scone or two; there's no finer room in the place for a bite and a gossip over High Tea than in the Library staff room that overlooks Oberon's Wood. But I hope the real attraction is the books here. It had better be!
Want to read a first edition of The Lord of The Rings? It's here, as well as a first edition of The Hobbit; both with Professor Tolkien's fussy little water colours. My preference? The Hobbit, as I find the trilogy bloody boring -- flat characters, tedious narrative, and a middle section that's a horror to read. Looking for something a little more risqué? Try Peake's Gormenghast. It's under-rated as a fantasy but in fact it's rare entertainment, of a black sort; more scandals than heroics. And Peake went mad during the third volume, you know, so there's a unique perspective for you! Looking for something a lot more risqué? How about A.N. Roquelaure's The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty? Ahhh, that's the pen name for Anne Rice, the writer of some of the worst fiction I ever tried to read! And no, since you ask, her erotica's no better. Some fantasies deserved to be stifled in convent school.
Or perhaps you prefer your erotica in a graphic form, say Alan Moore's The Lost Girls. Oh, stop blushing -- I'm seen you in the Pub admiring the working girls who come off the street to get warm in the winter! Want something more classical in this vein? We've got the original uncensored lyrics of 'Blowzabella, My Bouncing Doxy' that Thomas D'Urfey penned centuries ago. Now there's words that'll a Jacky Tarr turn red with embarrassment!
Looking for a good detective series to while away a few weeks? See those bound periodicals on the far wall? Yes, those' Re the Strand magazines containing The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. I confess that they' Re a little frayed over a century on, as not a year goes by that a few staffers read the entire series. Stained, too -- I can't break the buggers of eating over the books. And yes, we have the later Strands with the rest of the Holmes stories as well. Equally impressive is that a visitor here sometime around The Great War came back from France with near mint copies of the magazine Le Siecle from between March and July 1844 -- where The Three Musketeers was first published in serial form! I don't read French that well, but several staffers who did have left extensive comments in the Library Journal in the last century about how pleasurable it was to read it in the original form. I really ought to have it translated one day, with their commentary.
I think we have all of Georges Simenon's Maigret novels in French. It appears that there were seventy-five novels and twenty-eight shorter stories about Maigret which were published between 1931 and 1972, and my French is good enough to say they read much better in French than they do in badly translated English: too much of the feel is lost in translation. Why anyone reads fiction in translation is something I'll never grasp. Though it might be preferable to not reading it at all, but if the choice is between going hungry and eating swill -- well, we' Re gourmands of the mind around here.
Enough about what's here, as you will undoubtedly find what you want somewhere in the nooks and crannies of this apparently vast library. Me, I'm off to the Pub for some grub; say a shepherd's pie, or a pint or two of Guinness. Make sure you tell one of my assistants if you want to check anything out - removing anything from here without authorization has dire consequences. Yes, dire is not too harsh a word. Too dire to describe in polite company, really. Let's just say that not all the ghosts here expected to be ghosts...