a glimpse into my probable future 1

The years rolled by. With the triumphs and disappointments they brought to me, this brief tale has nothing to do; as for my boyhood friend, he became an astronomer-a discipline admirably suited to his largely nocturnal style of life-and an acquirer of old books.

I do not call him a collector, for it seemed to me that he followed no plan. Like many professional men, he was attracted to accounts of his own profession, and it sometimes seemed to me that he had a baseless predilection for gold edging. Scientific conferences of one sort of another took him to distant cities, where he rarely missed the opportunity of rummaging through such shops as they afforded. I have heard that he sometimes bought whole stack of volumes as you or I might a single book, paying a trifle more to have them mailed home; the boxes in which his acquisitions arrived might be stacked in his foyer, unopened, for years. In our city, he haunted garage sales and would buy any number of decayed volumes and toss them into his rusty van. As far as I am aware, that van was emptied only when it became too full to hold more. He had inherited his parent’s Victorian house, and it seemed to be his ambition to choke all its many rooms and hallways with old books, papers of his own, and the dusty instruments of science.

At the time of which I speak, he had nearly succeeded. On my increasingly rare visits, we had to clear a chair so that I might sit; and on the last, he grudgingly yielded his own to me and stood. That was three years past, and I never came again.

The Arimaspian Legacy, Gene Wolfe

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~ by ironcupshrug on 12/10/2009.

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