Thursday, May 24, 2018
Looking for Melville books when 26 banker's boxes are packed
I did something right by taking photographs of layers in each box. I needed my very old reading copy of BATTLE-PIECES today and quickly found that it was not packed away, then located it. What a strange thing to think your career as a Melvillean was over then to get a chance to do the Library of American volume on HM's poetry. I may not quote John Lloyd Stephens, but at least now I know he is in Box 16! (He's probably online, anyhow.) And BATTLE-PIECES, which I had in the Wilmington Court House on 20 July 1989, legs sopping wet from being in the street trying to avoid tobacco smoke, is in my hands, still reeking just a bit. And those clouds of smoke that poured into the courtroom when the big doors were open--and the joker who smoked in the tiny jury bathroom--well, I suffered a long weekend from misdiagnosis then was rightly diagnosed with shingles but when I got to the hospital two doctors, a thuggish middle aged one and a pretty boy one, came in together all excited about a white looking man in his 50s with shingles. They had just heard the lecture about how to identify AIDS, so they hunched close to the head of the bed and one said, "Heavily into anal, eh?"
And I am not making up what the doctor said--the first thing one of them said when they rushed into the room. That 2nd misdiagnosis got me a private room with a view of the Washington Bridge for a week. There the pretty boy got a sample of a sore by slashing my forehead with a razor to show how manly he really was. The wholly unnecessary cut left a scar which now at last has faded into general facial decay. Do you see why I like living in California and walking on the beach along the Pacific every day?