The Slugs made Me do it

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Feb 24th, 2011
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The slugs made me do it.


You know, slugs. Not the slimy black/brown/grey thing that munches on all your garden vegetation, but the little chopped up bit of text on the front cover of that paperback.

A book’s cover has one job…well, actually two, but since one of those jobs is purely functional packaging, we will be concentrating on the cover’s main job. That is the role of seducing you into parting with your cash to buy it. So aside from the art itself, there are little tiny bites of text suggesting what the contents might contain.

I have something in the order of 1600 paperbacks in my collection, all shapes, sizes, fiction, non-fiction, old, new, rare… From this you may deduce that I am easily seduced.

Not true.

Although the slugs have played their part over the years, my main problem with paperback addiction is that I have enthusiasms. Eh? Surely that should say “enthusiasm” (singular).

Actually, no. Enthusiasms is exactly what I meant. Someone plants an idea in my head. Sometimes they are entirely unaware of having planted the seed, and occasionally the seed is the precise opposite of what they supposed they planted. Anyway: seed planted. I have to know more.

One of the lesser-known problems associated with paperback addiction, is that Amazon is a fearful enabler. The day they invented Amazon Prime, my shrieks of unholy joy could be heard from miles away.

My Japanese house-building addiction, for example, has resulted in a pile of books that has to be seen to be believed. These books are enormous, heavy, and so beautifully illustrated that one could get lost in them for hours at a time. Alternative dwellings, alternative energy and alternative lifestyles also form a very large part of my collection.

Sometimes an enthusiasm comes from an area in which I have been wandering around for ages. Memory is vital to what I do. It provides an endless fund of the weird and wacky for me to try and raise a laugh. My life is already quite weird and wacky, but the opportunity to embroider and improve upon is there too. Thus, the bookshop bomb is real, based on a real bomb being dropped on my home town in the early 1940s. The opportunity to dress this particular tale up and re-use it as a turning point in my romantic comedy could not be missed.

So, what would I do without memory?

Or slugs for that matter. Sometimes it’s the slugs that suggest something. And away I go again.

Those tiny little bits of text on the front of that latest paperback can be so much more…

1 Comment

  • Mel

    On the topic of Japanese House Building, I recommend “In Praise of Shadows”, a truly seductive personal essay by Junichiro Tanizaki. You’ll never sleep with light in your room ever again.

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