Alas, woe is me, oimoi! My faded Colette paperbacks are falling apart. I had a set of 16 FSG/Noonday Press editions, but the bindings cracked and I’m down to seven. I love the delicate drawings on these white covers now faded to cream. I found them at the Union bookstore as a freshman and charged the books on my student ID. Reading Colette made me feel sophisticated (says she who wore bell-bottom jeans and t-shirts).
Sure, my cat used the top edge of My Mother’s House and Sido as a scratching post, but all remained readable until the glue began to dissolve. The bindings have cracked: p. 84, The Pure and the Impure, p. 26, The Vagabond, etc..
I’ve replaced The Blue Lantern, Break of Day, The Shackle, The Complete Claudine, Mitsou/Music-Hall Sidelights, My Apprenticeships, and Gigi, to name a few. Several are in print from FSG, thank God. But most of mine are used: an NYRB, an old hardcover Colette omnibus with an introduction by Erica Jong, old Penguins, a Dover, and Peter Owens.
How can I replace this pretty edition of Sido and My Mother’s House? (Mine is not as pretty as this picture of someone else’s online.)
Well, it is in print from FSG, but with a different cover.
And what about The Vagabond? I am very attached to this book.
My favorite Colette is The Vagabond, the first one I read. The heroine, Renee, is a witty, sophisticated, reserved writer-turned-music-hall artist, enjoying casual friendships with the troupe and life on the road, while trying to avoid her fan, “Big Noodle,” who sends her flowers and is determined to seduce and marry her. Renee is divorced and resists a new relationship. She prefers to spend time with her bulldog. I wanted to be just like Renee, but how would that would have would been possible? Should I have been a mime/dancer instead of a Latin teacher/flunky editor/perpetual student/waitress? Well, I can’t mime or dance…but I do know Latin.
Omnibuses are the salvation of biblio-civilation!
Do your books fall part? Can they be saved? What is their shelf life (ha ha)? I have turned on comments just for this post.