There is a used book store around the corner from me called Pickwick’s. At the end of the day, the proprietor places a box of books that can be browsed and taken. That’s where I found the textbook United States in Literature. The textbook immediately struck me as a relic because it came from a time that I’m not sure exists anymore when students were issued textbooks at the beginning of the year and returned them at the end of the year with the condition noted. The reason why I took it home was that the book was verbally tattooed on the front and back cover with the names of rock bands from the late 70’s and 80’s. like Judas Priest, the Cars and the Ramones [multiple times] There is also a vocabulary quiz on The Red Badge of Courage.

I have many questions. Could this book ever have been used and returned?  Was the artist bored? Did the artist feel that he was making a collection of literary fossils relevant? Oh irony! To us, his graffiti is just as dated as the textbook.

Now that I have finished writing about this book, I will return it to Pickwick’s. There is another, a scavenger of literary anthologies, who marked it for scarfing. On the other hand, I am a content skimmer. Having noted what I expected to be there, Ralph Waldo Emerson for example, I immediately went to the end of the book. Like a book on modern art, that’s always interesting because that is the section which consists of best guesses about what will become part of the canon.

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