The Book I’m Not Reading

text by Lacy Simons

In his recent op-ed in the New York Times Richard Russo called Lacy Simons a “talented young bookseller.” Indeed she is. Lacy owns, operates and otherwise curates Hello Hello Books, an independent bookshop in Rockland.

It’s a terrible irony: now that I own a bookshop, I have a lot less time to read. At least that was the case in 2011, as I got the business off the ground; I hope that 2012 turns that around. Until that happens, though, I’m going to focus on what I’m not reading: books that have recently wormed their way on to my (always daunting, always epic) To Be Read list, many of which I have ferreted away in my workspace at the shop but have not yet been able to dive into with any regularity or sincerity. As a lover of used and new books alike, I’m fascinated with the trajectory of books in our lives, the how and where and why a copy of something falls into your hands, and as much as possible I’ll illuminate the roots of these neglected books. Pressed for time as I am, think of these as snapshots, or the gathering together of the threads that tie me to the book.

Radial Symmetry by Katherine Larson

First collection of poems. Won the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize in 2011. Author is a research scientist & field ecologist in Arizona. Found in the feed of a Goodreads friend; investigated based on cover art, which features one of my favorite Art Forms in Nature illustrations by Ernst Haeckel; bought based on bits like this, from “Love at Thirty-Two Degrees”:

Today I dissected a squid,
the late acacia tossing its pollen
across the black of the lab bench.
In a few months the maples
will be bleeding. That was the thing:
there was no blood
only textures of gills creased like satin,
suction cups as planets in rows. Be careful
not to cut your finger, he says. But I’m thinking
of fingertips on my lover’s neck
last June. Amazing, hearts.
This brachial heart. After class,
I stole one from the formaldehyde
& watched it bloom in my bathroom sink
between cubes of ice.

Dedication: for my mother and father
Most promising poem title: “Water Clocks”
Sample epigraph: A single day is enough to make us a little larger or, another time, a little smaller. Paul Klee
Fifth word on page 47: baker
Forty-seventh word on page 5: they