Saturday, May 21, 2016

Letter to a young shelver

Dear Young Shelver:

Congratulations on landing your dream job, and welcome to the noble fraternity of book shelvers. A rich world awaits you, and though you will not receive much in the way of pay, power, or respect, you need only crack open a few of the books you are shelving to understand these things are chimeras, succubi, body snatchers. They cannot bring you what the exalted cause of book shelving can, a life of enlightenment. Take it all in. You are home now.

One of the beautiful things about being a book shelver is that it is a craft that can never be perfected. The decades of training that led you to this job was only the beginning. It is a long, engaging road to mastery, and even mastery cannot put a seal on it. I have been working with these books for more than twenty years and I still have much to learn. Nevertheless I have, through great trial and attention, association and fellowship, become privy to some of the great secrets of our calling.

I have seen you shelving with gusto. I admire your elan. I rejoice in your thrilling beginnings of a life lived in our beautiful, alphabetical dream. To welcome you to this calling I would like to share with you one of these great secrets. In viewing some of your early work I thought this particular secret would be of use to you from the start. It is merely the first secret. More will be revealed to you in time. But for now, get out your pen and paper. You may want to write this down.

Are you ready?

Here it is:

Dan Brown and Dale Brown are two different people.

Yes, Dan Brown and Dale Brown are two different authors.

I know. They do seem similar!

Yes, you are right, "Brown" is the exact same as "Brown".

But they are not the same person.

Yes, you are right, it is an important distinction, but not if it's true, rather, because it's true!

You are correct. Their books do look similar, but one clue is that the Dale Brown books have a more "Military suspense" feel to them whereas the Dan Brown books have a more "Secret society quasi religious suspense" feel to them.

I lost you, didn't I? We'll go back. 

Yes, "Brown" is the exact same as "Brown".  However "Dale" is different than "Dan".

Yes, they both start with "DA", but look at the next letter. Do you see? One is an "L" and one is a "N".

You see it?

You do see it! Good job. Well done! 

This means all the Dale Brown books will be filed before all the Dan Brown books.

I know! It's exciting how it all works out.

Next week maybe I'll send you a letter about the writing Millers: Henry, Julie, Linda Lael, Arthur, and Sue. You'll love it.

Welcome to our fold,

F. Calypso, 


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