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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Unbearable Loneliness

So outside of Leonard Cohen what's the loneliest thing you can think of?

I'll tell you: an empty bookshelf. And I'll tell you what's lonelier than that: Dead Beat's library.

If you haven't been in Dead Beat's library, then you have missed out on one of the great treats in the literary world. But tonight the shelves are empty. The books are boxed. Yes my friends, Dead Beat is on the move. Leaving the tranquility of a space sandwiched between the Canadian prairies and the Canadian Shield, the boreal forest. Off to where? Well that's for another day. Today he is contemplative, quiet, not his usual self.

He walks without reason into the empty wood panelled room, surveys the wooden bookshelves devoid of life, drops his head, runs his fingers along the shelves for dust, his own dust, and he walks out again. Later he will return. Leave and return.

While packing them away he was determined to be courageous, heroic, to select those books which would not accompany him on his journey. So in the beginning he took each and every book down singly and held it in his hand, weighing it up: to keep or to pass on. An hour later he was grabbing them a half dozen at a time and storing them away. His pile for passing on non-existent. It doesn't matter that very many of these books will go unread. It doesn't matter that there are often many different copies of the same book. It doesn't matter that there are books there he cannot ever remember acquiring. The acquisition, the possession of books has nothing to do with it, the reading of books has nothing to do with it. These books mark out the passage of Dead Beat's life. The more boxes there are, the closer he is to death.

Book shelves are tombs Dead Beat finally decides. They are empty now. He has risen from the dead.

1 comment:

Effe said...

Dear Gerard,
sorry, I didn't find your e-mail address.
I'm writing (and reading your blogs) from Italy.
I am involved in a literary online magazine named Buràn ( )
Buràn hosts foreign (for us) bloggers and writers, from every part of the world.
The aim is to show what we call "Invisible Writing": stories that we usually are not able to read because of the language (chinese, arab and so on) or because they are fading away into the great ocean of the web.
We collect short stories from all over the world.
For the next issue ee would really like to publish some irish bloggger and writer.
If you are interested in our project, please contact me here or at
By the way, maybe you could tell about the Buràn project to someone else up there, in the blogosphere of your Country.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
I hope to hear from you soon.