Friday, June 09, 2006


As I waited in interminable traffic, I did what I often do to pass the time: I pleasantly contemplated sudden death. Specifically I wondered what it would be like if my car were suddenly swallowed by a yawning sinkhole, sucking its contents to the abyss. If this entombed vehicle were not discovered for many eons, what would a curious archeologist think of its contents as she catalogued them as part of her dig?

This scientist of the future would no doubt be struck by all kinds of odd things in the car. Chief among them would be its many toys: trolls in assorted festive colors; Mike and Sully, the gay couple from the film Monsters, Inc.; a Magna Doodle. It is possible she would also discover a tin with some leftover mints, though I may well have eaten those in an attempt to prolong my unexpectedly subterranean life. Most intriguing, though, would be the car's vast collection of books, a veritable library of Alexandria on wheels. Here are a few titles she would note as she composed her list of "tomes interred as grave goods":
  • Vikings: A Very Short Introduction
  • The Little Mermaid, Disney picture book version
  • Summerland (Michael Chabon)
  • You Can Be a Ballerina!
  • Mr Brown Can Moo. Can You? (Dr. Seuss; see here for a suggestion of possible homoeroticism and pedophilia in this underappreciated author)
  • The Botany of Desire (Michael Pollan)
  • Vampire Plagues: Mexico, 1850 (Sebastian Rook)
  • Dead Lovers: Erotic Bonds and the Study of Premodern Europe (page proofs)
  • The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
  • The Spectral Jew (Steve Kruger)
  • That's Not My Tractor!
  • The Subject of Violence (Peter Haidu)

Look for reviews of several of these books to appear here in the weeks ahead. [And don't get your hopes up that You Can Be a Ballerina! will be among them because -- astoundingly, and unlike most other medievalists -- such has never been my desire].


Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the subtitle to That's Not My Tractor is Its Engine is Too Bumpy. I think that the guy over at the Unlocked Wordhoard ought to deconstruct that...

Jeffrey Cohen said...

I find it interesting that you cared enough to find that fact out.

Kid #2 dreams of wearing a tutu while operating heavy machinery. The ballerina and tractor books are both hers.

Anonymous said...

darn it, I was hoping that 'you can be a ballerina!' might the sister of 'writing your dissertation in 15 minutes a day!'

though, i'd be sure to hold out for 'you can be a solid gold dancer!'

my trunk has lots of GnR tapes, a scuzzy beach blanket, a fuzzy unicorn, jumper cables, and a road atlas. and, sadly, a box full of pennies.

Karl Steel said...

Doesn't ballet + heavy machinery = Maoism?

Or is that just me?

Anonymous said...

I'm confused, what's wrong with wearing a tutu while operating a tractor? When I was little, I had similar dreams. Oops, perhaps I've said too much. I'm sure she'll turn out perfectly fine, I sure did.

Jeffrey Cohen said...

HD: didn't I ever tell you I WAS a solid gold dancer, until I got that hernia? Oy, medieval studies was the only thing left to me after that.

Karl: Stop browsing vintage Maoist propaganda posters and finsih writing your dissertation. You can do it in 15 minutes a day, I hear.

J/E: Pas de comment.

Anonymous said...

Glad my bookgroup was reading something worthy of noting!