This Clive James poem, “The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered” is glorious and has me recalling days working at a second-hand and remainder book store, when a pallet would come in off a truck, and we’d cut the plastic strapping and slice the top off this giant cardboard cube, chest high. Inside would be a gruesome stew of remaindered titles bought in bulk in Texas like pumpkins after Halloween. They were packed in there like refugees in a ship’s hold, sickly and neglected. Scuffed jackets, bent corners, torn pages. Everything from Danny and His Dog to 41 Recipes for Mackerel from a Child Star from the 70s to erotic vampire fiction, tossed together like anything else you gratefully discard. They had been lain flat, and that was the only courtesy paid.
And, yes, in with it all would be the occasional breakout sensation from two seasons past, a title that for some weeks had been heralded as the leading edge of progress in fiction, the next wave, a shattering look with poignant insight, etc., from a writer whose voice was like nothing ever heard before. The mix of satisfaction and gloom. Ha, ha, I knew it was all hype! Yet, didn’t I want to be a sensation too?
Beautiful language in the poem as well.
(I have a first edition hardcover of DFW’s “Girl With Curious Hair” that came in a remainder bin, though whoever did the processing knew well enough not to put a dot on the pages’ edge. About six copies came in, and they were all claimed by staff, who were often collectors.)