Book Loaned to Tom Andres

by Bobby C. Rogers

Read by Emma Rye

I’d already found out that one of the secrets to happiness was

never loan your books. But I loaned it anyway. We were all of

us poor and living

 

on ideas, stumbling home late to basement apartments, talking

to ourselves. What did we own except books and debt? When

the time came

 

we could move it all in the trunk of a car. Tom knew what a book

was worth—he brought it back a week later, seemingly

unhandled, just a little looser

 

in the spine, a trade paper edition of The Death of Artemio

     Cruz, required reading for a course in postmodernism we

were suffering through.

 

The book’s trashed now, boxed up and buried in the garage with

a hundred other things I can’t throw away. When I moved

back south I loaned it again

 

to a girl I’d just met. At some party I’d said it was the best

novel since Absalom, Absalom!, which may have been true,

but mostly I was trying to impress her,

 

and convince myself, still testing all I’d been told about how

the matter of a book is best kept separate from, well,

matter. Months later it turned up

 

on my front steps without comment, the cover torn in two

places, the dog-eared pages of self-conscious prose

stuck together with dark, rich chocolate.

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