May 14, 2014

Weekly Wednesday Writing Challenge 5.14.2014

Set your timer to 10 minutes and start writing. Your opening sentence should be

"You could tell a lot about them from the books on their shelves... "



Remember you can write in any style or format. When you are finished cut and paste your 10 min piece in the comment thread below OR put a link to your own blog or area where you write online.

16 comments:

  1. You could tell a lot about them from the books on their shelves, he'd been told. There were only a few of them in this room, big, thick books, so covered with dust that it was impossible to tell what they were from the doorway.

    Harvey walked over, and gingerly wiped off the dust of ages, a dead spider, and what looked like a collection of mouse droppings from the first book. A telephone directory for Tacoma from 1978? The next title was even more bizarre. A hardcover book in a leather binding that looked as though it dated from the 19th century. "Deep Sea Fishes of the South Pacific" by Rutfield and Kerrigan. Harvey half-pulled the book from the shelf, provoking a small eruption of dust that made him sneeze, and then thought better of it, and replaced the book carefully.

    Next, a thick book whose covers looked like those of a Bible. This time Harvey braved the dust volcano, and opened it to see inside. Yes, it was a Bible, but in Latin. Uh? He turned to the flyleaf to see if there was any clue as to who had bought this, or when. Nothing.

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    1. This seems like an interesting start. I certainly want to know who Harvey is and what the story is behind this long lost strange library

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  2. "You could tell a lot about them from the books on their shelves! Now let me in, cunt!" hissed Barley at the tiny aperture. Slowly the giant steel door slid open, vibrating his shoes. He stepped through, shook the rain off his shoulders, and hunted down the cunt on the other side.

    The cunt was literally standing on a step ladder, feeding the door closed, hand over hand, grunting, back to Barley. "Welcome," it said into the door. "Now let them feel you up."

    Of course they weren't alone, of course. Kind of from the shadows, kind of from an orange pantry sort-of-looking stairway, closed three shadows. No faces, all hands and arms and legs, calloused and hard as rock. They patted his back, his neck, thighs, calves, and slid their hard fingers into his crack.

    "He's clean," said one of them. The voice was high pitched, but rough.

    "What? No present?" It was the cunt, stepping down the small ladder, literally wobbling down the three steps like a toddler. Finally, it turned, peered up into Barley's eyes, and smiled. Its face was dollish: wide, big cheeks, pebbly eyes; skin cracked, not from age, from a bad paint job.

    "I was hoping for a present."

    "I thought-"

    "What you thought, that matters, Barley, but not as much as you think it does. Now, let's see what you have got to say. Gentlemen, the meeting room."

    Strong fingers wrapped around Barley's biceps. Something hard behind him prodded his back. The cunt waddled on ahead. "I'm glad," it said without turning back, "that you've lost that ridiculous smirk."

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    1. this part works really well and is quite ominous
      No faces, all hands and arms and legs, calloused and hard as rock. They patted his back, his neck, thighs, calves, and slid their hard fingers into his crack.

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  3. You could tell a lot about them from the books on their shelves. I love to study the books on people’s shelves because it tells me so much about them, and I need to know them in depth. You see I am a freelance journalist. I often interview celebrities, business leaders, politicians, and other members of the elite upper class. These are the people who are shaping the cultures, the economies, and the environment of the entire world.

    I have found that they, like most people, have an outside persona that they present to the world, and then the inner one of doubts, ambition, anger, love, and so on that they carefully conceal.

    These people are so good at making the world see what they want it to see that cracking them open, so to speak, takes tremendous time and research.

    That’s where a glance at the book shelves often comes in handy. These rich people usually have several book shelves on walls in their living rooms or hallways. These hold the books that they want others to see and to think that they really give a damn about.

    What I am interested in are the books on the bookshelves that are in the back bedroom or the books that are kept in the shelves in the private bathroom. Ulysses, the Bible, War and Peace and other great works of literature are usually are on display in the public areas. On the shelves in the private areas are books that give more direction into the psyche of my target.

    My target now is Jack Brinsbane, a leading member of the Kentucky Tea Party. I was lucky enough to get an unexpected and unrequested private invitation to his home. From the living room, I made my way into the toilet while he had to take an urgent call in another room. What do I see? Cookbooks. How to Prepare Interviewers for Dinner, Interviewers for Dessert, Interviewers in Ten Minutes for the Busy Chef.

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  4. "You could tell a lot about them from the books on their shelves," he told me as soon as he came into my room, then he start examining my books. "So, you like Kundera then?" he asked, looking at "The Unbearable Lightness of Being". "Well, sort of," I said briefly. I was afraid that he would start a philosophical conversation. I knew he read a lot and I was worried that I would say something stupid. But he didn't say anything and went back to the book shelf.

    He was the first person who visited my room since I came here a year ago. Being extremely introverted, I'd been friendless for a long time. I didn't quite remember what it was like to have a stranger in my flat. I wanted to say something but I didn't know what to say, so I remained silent.

    "Well, Adrian, I like your books. I am glad that you are a good reader," he finally said after going through my collection quietly. I passed the test, I thought, and I found myself a little bit more at ease than a few minutes ago.

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    1. really like this line- it expresses the nervousness and unsureness I didn't quite remember what it was like to have a stranger in my flat.

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  5. You could tell a lot about them from the books on their shelves, thought Dr Epstein. He was currently wavering between multiple personalities, OCD (hoarding), and what he preferred to term, with a little inward snicker, ODI. An Overly Developed Sense of Irony.

    Take this shelf, for example. It began at its leftmost extremity with an old, square blue-bound brick of a thing that was probably always destined to be a book-end. An Introduction to Elementary Calculus, picked out in gold on the spine. Age has crept under the covers, leaving small beige specks on otherwise well-kept white. An inscription reads “Pamela Ann Hepburn: II, 3. Dame Allen’s School for Girls, 1961.”

    This rubs shoulders with a large and tattered brownish volume announcing in strident bubble lettering that you too could Grow your own tubers. Ah, the seventies. A time of some idealism. And here, a thin Anarchist Press volume entitled Revolution in Chile, which had somehow become a bookmark in a stridently red-bound volume of Teach Yourself Russian. Unit 1 kicked off with the word “comrade”.

    Walking the Yorkshire Dales. Coal not Dole! Wuthering Heights (thrice over, one with margins dense with what a cynic would call essay plans). The Beano annuals, 1987-1994. Doctor Benjamin Spock’s Baby and Child Care. Das Kapital. An Introduction to Basket Weaving.

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    1. Didn't know you'd rummaged through my bookcase, Caroline!

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    2. your wit always shines through... love this line... you too could Grow your own tubers. Ah, the seventies. A time of some idealism.

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  6. She was bringing home a date, a rare occurrence for her as she had a somewhat prickly shell. They were going out to dinner, and I think she was curious what my opinion of him would be. I had no plans for the evening, had no papers due and was looking forward to some quiet time by myself. I’m still not sure why she had decided to let me meet someone she was seeing, especially since it was their first date, but my interest was piqued by the novelty of it all.

    Ours was a disquieting relationship and had been since childhood. It had become more so since becoming roommates and attending the same college. I felt as though our old friends saw us as merely 2 faces of the same person – a sort of hybrid or composite of disparate traits. I cherished the development and honing of my new distinct persona, separate from hers, and imagined that she was beginning to feel the same.

    He casually glanced at the bookshelf we had hung in our entryway while she got her coat, and then one of the books caught his attention. “You have The Táin!”, he said excitedly. “Wow, that’s really unusual. Most people haven’t even heard of it! Beowulf and the rest of The Ulster Cycle, too. Hmm…really interesting”, he went on. “I’ve always thought, when you first meet people that you could tell a lot about them from the books on their shelves”, he said approvingly at her as he smilingly helped her on with her coat. She stared at him dumbstruck.

    “Actually, those are my books”, I responded.

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  7. I feel the beginning of a very interesting story starting here.

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  8. Upon first walking into their room your eyes might make a reconnaissance flight of sorts, a cursory reading of the geography of their physical lives before entering. Then, you might stroll, seemingly casual, to their shelves. Here is where you could do some serious intelligence work. Yes, the titles of the books might reveal some insights into who you are dealing with – what books have they allowed to live on these shelves and which of those have been exiled either to the bottom shelf (where they can only meet people agile enough to squat down to their level) and which of those to the top shelf so far out of reach and so elusive and so impossible to dust? Which ones get the much-fought for places of honor at eye level where might actively engage and captivate?
    How are they arranged -- by author or category or the beauty of their covers? Are the upper class hardcovers mixing amongst the common masses of paperbacks? Are they laid on their sides in supportive towers where they serve to help those less fortunate stand erect? Must they share their lives with space-hogging bowls and entitled-feeling statuettes or are they permitted a proudly independent existence?
    But, you might want to keep in mind that this set up could just be a diversionary tactic. These books might not be the ones to reveal the truths for which you are searching. Those might be found in private rooms where only intimates are allowed – where, in spite of their missing corners and injured spines, they are lovingly tended or where, because of the blushing they might cause, they are carefully hidden. Maybe, when your hosts are pre-occupied elsewhere, you can make a quick sortie into the semi-darkness of those undiscovered regions.

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    1. love love love this part Must they share their lives with space-hogging bowls and entitled-feeling statuettes or are they permitted a proudly independent existence?

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