Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Libraries Are Where Quiet Voices Shout

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Libraries Are Where Quiet Voices Shout

Article excerpt

Sometimes when I need to clear my head, I walk to the public library.

My town happens to have a pretty good one. I know its aisles and stacks better than I know some of our main thoroughfares.

I know exactly, for instance, the drawer where the tried-and-true, well-worn CD of Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" is to be found, with its faded yellow cover and its cracked plastic case. Merely holding it in my hand waiting to check it out sometimes gives me chills because it is fragile, and because it has withstood time, and been appreciated by so many over so many years.

I also must confess that I still enjoy the smell of old books, get a high from them. Indeed, there is a comfort in that smell, similar to the way, as a kid, I would smell my mother's vegetable soup and feel oddly comforted by the cooking down of tomato, zucchini or potato.

Yes, the library remains that place of comfort for many, and while protest and shouting and debate is part and parcel to the American way, it strikes me that not nearly enough of us find our way to those quieter places, either in body or mind.

What I like more than the comfort, though, about the library, is the simple surprise.

Last Sunday, I walked into my local library not knowing what I was looking for, which has generally been my way. I've been walking into libraries like that as long as I can remember, and have yet be disappointed in the outcome. It's sort of like pulling off the Interstate while on a long road trip and starting down a side road, without benefit of GPS or Waze, or even a real map, and magically crashing into the greatest little food haven in the world.

Life's best, most memorable – and often most affordable – moments come without warning, come with merely letting go of one's self, one's certainty and rolling instead with the hope of serendipity.

So it was last Sunday, when I wandered over to the periodicals – which had been relocated lately – and stumbled upon a copy of The Paris Review, a literary journal I began reading in college, and one that has stood up to its best traditions over the decades, and a journal I will sometimes purchase.

Last Sunday, though, I was merely skimming, flipping through the table of contents when I came across a ghost from the past: Ezra Pound, one of our great modernist poets, it seemed, had been resurrected, and offered a contribution to the magazine. …

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