Gary Shteyngart, Philip Pullman, Claire Messud, James Wood, Junot Díaz, and Edmund White
An illustrated reference book about moths wakes to find herself in a strange apartment in this exclusive short story by Audrey Niffenegger (for The Guardian)
The book woke up in a strange man’s apartment.
The book had been published in 1928 in Minneapolis. She was exceptionally well illustrated, with many colour plates; most of the illustrations featured moths, larvae, pupae, caterpillars, cocoons. She had 364 pages, all clay-coated stock, and was cloth bound in faded saffron buckram with her title stamped in silver on the cover and spine. There was some foxing. Her title was Moths of the New World.
Or: the book was a small-boned light-haired woman with big brown eyes and a startled expression. She was shy and always wore nondescript clothing. She preferred to fade into the background and seldom spoke. Like most real books she spent a great deal of her time sleeping, but even so there were dark circles under her eyes. She had never met her author and because her original print run had only been 500 she was seldom read now. Most of her copies had been relegated to special collections and rare book rooms, or cut up and sold for the pictures. So Moths of the New World spent her nights and days dozing on her shelf in the Library, content to be left alone.
How did I get here? She looked around at the heaps of books and wondered if she had been taken to some unfamiliar part of the Library, but there was something about this place that was wrong. It smells wrong. The Library smelled of paper, umbrellas, furniture polish, warm computers; it had a delectable mustiness. This place certainly smelled of paper but also of bacon, mould, armpits and unwashed hair. It was disorganised, even filthy, and crammed with every sort of book but also with broken appliances, congealed half-eaten food, balding stuffed animals, dusty shoes, an old bicycle with deflated tires. Moths of the New World had no idea what the bicycle was; to her it was a sad and slightly ominous machine. Someone was moving around in another room.
She lay open on top of a stack of other books. Not books she knew, they were only common books, not real books. She was the only real book here. She began to be frightened. Where is Analeise? Where is Bo?
Each can or box of nonperishable food can pay off $1 in library fines, up to 25 items for $25 in fines for each library card. The food goes to Illinois Valley, Putnam County, Mendota Area Christian and Hall Township food pantries.
John Cheever (via thelifeguardlibrarian)