It’s tempting to channel Eliza Dolittle, imagining what would be architecturally “loverly” even before blueprints for the new library get underway.
Recently I speculated how our workflow would benefit if staff offices were situated close together, so that we could quickly step over and consult with someone involved in cataloging, processing, or some other aspect of collection development. Julie, who’d just trekked across second floor from her office to return a journal to the Reference office, nodded: Yeah,” she agreed, “like the Panopticon in Horrorstor!”
Now, that Panopticon is a dreadful (and thankfully fictional) destination. But take away the torture devices and utter despair, and you have an undeniably collaborative floor plan. We gave Julie a thumbs-up.
But then ideas from unexpected sources are always energizing. My current TV favorite, Flea Market Flip, could run for decades before I’d tire of cheering its intrepid contestants. With budget and list in hand, they troll through acres of random stuff, suddenly halting to exclaim over sad, damaged chairs, rusty industrial parts, and unstylish bedroom suites. Combining vision and an encyclopedic knowledge of crafts (and usually spray paint) they rehabilitate their finds into trendy creations sold at a profit.
Though not a fan of the ubiquitous Midcentury end table projects, I admire the fusion of thrift, repurposing, and out-of-the-box inspiration.
That said, I clearly need to balance imagination with attention to more conventional goings-on. Here it is November–National Novel Writing Month–and I’m not participating due to zero plot ideas. But other authors have been alert to life as we know it. Their titles demonstrate the appeal of burnishing already-relatable themes–less spray paint, more polish:
Monica McInerney’s Hello from the Gillespies entertainingly considers the Annual Christmas Letter tradition. Recipients of other families’ oh-so-perfect holiday newsletters (a demographic which includes everyone I know) have surely wondered which events went unreported. And consider the soul-freeing option of at least momentarily committing to holiday-themed paper (or email) all the disappointments and frustrations blotting one’s past year. What could possibly go wrong there?
William Hazelgrove gift-wraps another Yuletide standard, the Santa Claus question, in Real Santa. A classic scenario–father recently unemployed yet determined to preserve a child’s delight in magic—ramps up extravagantly; this father knows the right people (or so he believes) and spares no expense. From the Booklist review: “If somebody doesn’t make a movie out of this book, there’s something wrong with the world.”
Julie Schumacher’s heartwarmingly satirical Dear Committee Members stars English professor Jason Fitger in a Grinch-y role. Fitger’s department is underfunded, downtrodden, and forced to dodge plummeting chunks of plaster while the Economics department one floor above gets a posh renovation. Furious and faced with a constant inflow of requests for letters of recommendation, Jason finally (and luckily for fiction fans) resorts to decrying wrongs and venting outrage via all those LORs.
Imagine availing oneself of an established informational channel just to publicize one’s observations! What kind of person would do that?