Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Severed Pages

A really strange thing happened, just a while ago.
Strange in the sense of coincidental, I guess. I am sitting here in this Chapters bookstore after work, and I’m in the Starbucks section, reading and drinking coffee. I am still here, in fact, as I write this, the entire event I am about to describe, happening just minutes ago.
I was reading Chaucer and some poems by Mary Oliver, and sort of day-dreaming.
I began to think of Ayn Rand. Her books.
I have been anticipating reading her for so long now, and I plan to read The Fountainhead over the holidays.
For the first time though, I wondered the following question:
Did Ayn Rand write her novels in English, or in Russian?
I mean, all I really knew of her was that she was Russian, born and raised in St. Petersburg. So I guess I began to wonder if her novels were TRANSLATED into English. Whenever I wonder stuff like this, it drives me nuts.
So I walked over to the Rand section and picked the only Fountainhead off the shelf, it was one of these mass market Signets. The Centennial Edition, really nice for a paperback, actually. It is the very one shown in the photo, above.
So, I open the front cover and I am staring at page 33.
“I said forget about that. What is it?”
“You know,” said Keating honestly and unexpectedly even to himself….”

Now, I’ve heard of authors sort of launching out in what is known as “in media res”…. in other words, program in progress, but this was ridiculous. I knew that something was terribly amiss.
There was nothing, no title page, no dedication, no introduction, no opening colophon, nothing.
JUST INSTANT WORDS. And no pages had been torn out. This was my first thought, of course, that some no-goodnik tore out a bunch of pages, but no, the book was in perfect condition but for this one clean, unexplainable amputation. Surgery was done at the production level!
As such, nowhere was there any place for a statement about whether the thing was translated into English.
So I grabbed a few others, Atlas Shrugged, and Anthem, and these books were not deformed, they were normal. And none of them stated anything on the opening pages about translation. And at the back pages of one of them, it was explained that Ayn Rand was already in America by the time she was 20 years old, and, [I think] became sort of totally Americanized from that point onward, dying in her New York apartment in March of 1982.
So, I guess I got my answer. She wrote in English!

I presented the deformed book to one of the lovely Chapters girls, and she too, was astounded, assuring me she would deal with the matter. She walked away with the book.
Now some of you may be shaking your heads and saying, “Geez Cipriano, relax. It’s not like you were abducted by aliens or anything. Look at the cyber-space you are using to describe such a commonplace event!”
But that is just it. It is NOT a commonplace event.
A commonplace event would be browsing the shelves, picking a book out and noticing that it was missing front pages.
However, sitting on the other side of the store, and then thinking that you want to see the front pages of a certain book in that store, and then getting up out of your chair and walking the half-mile to the shelf and finding that the very pages you wanted to see in that specific book have been…. [hit a few minor keys, you know, the black ones on the piano…. any of them will do, we need spooky here...] those pages have been removed.
Those pages do not EXIST….. ahh my friends, no. This is not a normal situation. Not at all.
It is VERY MUCH like alien abduction. I suggest to you that it is even very much like something that aliens would do.

It’s like crop circles. None of us will ever know. We won’t know how or why it happened. Indeed, the causes of such paranormal events elude our understanding, hence the prefix “para”. → [From the Greek, meaning “more than one”, as in parasocks, and parapants.]

I have one experiment yet to perform.
I am going to go back to the shelf, just before I leave the store.
I want to see if the Chapters girl put that same mutated and alienized book back on the shelf!



Danielle said...

Did she?

cipriano said...

All I know is, I waited till she was done her shift, I huddled behind a garbage bin in the parking lot.... then, this glowing, frisbee sort of thing landed, and she ran out, and a door opened, and she went in....

Stefanie said...

You are too funny!