Monday, August 03, 2009

Boxed Sets

I adore boxed sets. Whether it be Anne of Green Gables or Winston Churchill’s Second World War, it’s satisfying to have a whole set, and a box makes its own mini-bookshelf. When I went through a Churchill phase a few years ago - what was with that? - the boxed set lured me. A longtime anti-war petitioner and protester, I paradoxically became absorbed in Churchill’s accounts of orchestrating the war, detailed maps, and lists of arms and ammunition.

Not my kind of thing usually, but one sees why he won the Nobel.

Last fall I rapidly reread L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series in honor of Anne’s centenary - again, love the boxed set! I was surprised by how clever and original these novels are, and the series actually improves as Anne grows up, teaches in a one-room school, returns to college for her B.A., writes stories, and marries The Right Man (Gilbert) - though the later novels deteriorate a bit as they shift to her children. I think I still have to track down some short stories, Chronicles of Avonlea. And L. M. Montgomery wrote an adult book, if I can find out which one it was. (She was prolific.)

On my mainly-unread books shelf I found an adorable set of Laurence Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet - Pocket Books, small paperbacks from the sixties with vaguely Picassoish cover art (I can't read the artist's signature on the covers; it's not Picasso).

One summer I fell in love with Laurence Durrell’s lush, poetic prose and spent a lot of time reading The Aleandria Quartet in a hammock, but I honestly don’t know if I can read lines like “Our love has become like some fearful misquotation in a popular saying” anymore without laughing. Perhaps It's best not to try. It seemed so romantic. I knew I was going to move to Alexandria and live like an artist. (Right!)

Books I'd Most Like to See in a Boxed Set: Pamela Hansford Johnson's Avenue of Stone trilogy.

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