Leslie Hidley is retired from the safety consulting business and is the mother of four (Kate, Jack, Theo, Boogie) and grandmother of ten—nine girls (Rose, Grace, Abby, Mercy, Chloe, Lucy, Cecilia, Daphne, Miranda) and one boy (Joe). She has written all of her life—in English, which is her second language. Although she has yet to submit her stories for publication, she has been videotaped reading some of them. Some of the books by her bed are more virtual than others, but should be real. For the last 30 years, she has lived in Ojai, California.
These books are, strictly speaking, not all on my bedside tables. Tina, the housekeeper, gets tired of all the crap that I put on the tables and periodically moves things onto the big girls’ desk in the corner of the room and the seat of the wing chair, so I’m going to actually have to get up and go fetch the damn books. I will list and number them. It’s orderly:
1. The Burglars’ Ball by Leslie Hidley and Peter Bellwood.
I am so modest. Peter (writer of the cult movie Highlander) and I wrote a long poem in iambic pentameter about a family of marauding raccoons in my back garden. Peter’s daughter, Lucy Bellwood, did wonderful illustrations and we made a book. It is not really a children’s book—more a book for grandparents to read to grandchildren. A friend, Michael Addison, who has a printing press, made 50 copies of it and I have one left. We are thinking of self-publishing it. Who knows?
2. Pink Moment Blues by Freelove Lippincott
A magical realist novel that takes place in an eskimo village called Happy Valley near Goose Bay, Labrador. The usual. Polar bears – ice floes on the river – tuberculosis – Clairol red hair dye (the favorite Inuit color) – Hudson’s Bay Company store –aurora borealis – wild blueberries – snow.
3. Flat by Sam Svoboda
A history of Lubbock County Texas. Towns: Levelland, Muleshoe, Garza, Posey, Shallowater, Buffalo Springs, Idalou, Slaton, Heckville….
4. Happy Are You Poor by Fr. Thomas Dubay
Haven’t read it yet. Got it because I spent all my trust fund and am currently working on plan B.
5. Heart of Noir by Ilse Buschlag
A collection of crime stories that take place in Frankfurt in the thirties. Moody and cold. Don’t know how good the translation is. Can hardly remember German anyhow, even though it was my first language.
6. Don Quixote by Pierre Menard
Found a copy at Bart’s Books in Ojai. Very rare.
7. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
I do not get it. And it is endless……….
8. The Rectification of Names by Confucius
This one I cannot read. It is a gorgeous leather-bound volume entirely in Chinese, but for whatever reason, the title on the spine is in English. It has to be one of the most beautiful and grave titles ever. I just like having the book near me.
9. The Holy Bible, The Douay Rheims translation.
The King James is prettier in many places, but is missing too many books (being Protestant and having removed them during the Reformation)–and some of them are my favorites–like “Wisdom.” I love the beginning parts of “Genesis”–read it over and over again. And “Wisdom.”
Ok, that’s the wing chair stack; going to take a break and have a cigarette before I get up and go over to the desk to find the rest of the books.
. . . We begin again with poetry.
10. Wounded Watermelons in the Wind by Babye Aurelia Stewart
A tiny volume by an aged southern belle about Memphis in the fifties.
11. Haiku for the Harried: 365 Very Short Poems by Tom Krause
One for each day–like vitamins–for those who don’t have time to eat or read.
12. Tango with a Bad Man by Lola Hardy
Memoir of a dance hall hostess in Nagadoches, Texas. Lots of dancing with oil field workers, workers from chemical plants, plenty of bad smells and tough guys.
13. Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas
It’s in five volumes. It was on sale. Maybe one day.
14. The Elements by Euclid
I read it in an attempt to stay rational. Maybe it helps.
15. A huge stack of paperbacks by Raymond Chandler.
It goes without saying.
Nice mix of real—and not—no? Is making up book titles a universal pastime? Got a fave?