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Letter from the Editor
In the fiction section of our splendid Wheaton Public Library, the Grim Reaper is moving through the Bs. The evidence is on the library's sale shelves, which I visit regularly. Here, along with books donated, there's a steady flow of books withdrawn from circulation. What else to do, with finite shelf-space and new books arriving each week?
At some libraries, alas, there's more going on. Space devoted to books is shrinking. I've seen no sign of that at our library (so far, at least). Nevertheless, the current round of weeding out is unusually severe. Among the books on the sale shelf yesterday were volumes by Elizabeth Bowen, Vance Bourjaily, Malcolm Bradbury, Gillian Bradshaw, Dorothy Bryant, John Buchan, Christopher Buckley, William F. Buckley, Frederick Buechner, and Mikhail Bulgakov, along with other Bs too numerous to mention. I've read titles—in some cases, many titles—by all those named except Bradshaw and Bryant. I hate to think of these books no longer being available except via interlibrary loan—but again, what's the alternative?
Please don't suppose that ALL of the fiction by the writers named has been discarded. There are still a number of Buechner titles on the shelf. You'll still be able to check out Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita at the Wheaton Public Library. (If you want to read Bourjaily, you'll have to resort to interlibrary loan or pick up a cheap used copy.) I'm sure the discarded titles hadn't been checked out in a while—in some instances, not for MANY years.
Even so, I felt a crazy desire to "save" these books (at $1 apiece). I settled for acquiring several historical novels by Bryher (the pen-name of Winifred Ellerman). She turns up in many books by and about "modernist" American writers, ranging from H. D. to Hemingway. Marianne Moore admired her fiction, but I haven't read her. Now seems like a good occasion to do so.
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