As I’ve noted before, books in the Yale Club collection have a tendency to dematerialize. Several members have suggested that I highlight these vanished titles, in the hopes that the added attention will bring them back to us.
Welcome to the city of lost books.
Freaky Deaky, by Elmore Leonard
Elmore Leonard arguably defined both the Western and Crime novel in America post-World War II. This 1988 novel was one of the three that the New York Times cited in the author’s 2013 obituary along with Get Shorty and Glitz, as establishing him as a master. The novel “one of the author’s own favorites,” according to Leonard’s website, “returns to Detroit for a carnivalesque ’60s flashback in which festering grudges left over from counterculture days are churned up in a brew of blackmail, bombs, and sex.”
We found this cover from our copy of the novel rather unceremoniously stuffed behind a shelf of books on DNA in the Main Reading Room of the Library. Is it possible someone was fact-checking a point of the crime? More likely, the culprit saw the dust on those particular shelves and felt confident the book jacket would be safe until he or she returned to claim it. We foiled the plan by doing some cleaning in that area. Though, of course, that member has the book and all we have is the jacket.
Just Kids, by Patti Smith
We are missing not one but two copies of this National Book Award-winning memoir by the icon of the punk-rock movement.
Early in my time at the club, a member asked for help finding the book, which she wanted to use to research a project. The book was missing and after a few months of waiting for it to return, I ordered another copy for her, as it is a book I wanted us to have in the collection. When the new copy arrived we processed it and, since the member who requested it was out of town, put it safely on the shelves.
When she returned I delightedly told her that Just Kids was now available. The catalog showed that it was available…but when we went to the shelves it was gone. There was just a forlorn little space in the biography section in between Captain John Smith and James Smithsonian.
I assume, of course, that one of our members is obsessed with Ms. Smith. As a result, this person compulsively takes anything related to Patti Smith – copies of Just Kids from libraries and bookstores and copies of Horses from one of the two record stores left in the city. There is a room somewhere papered with concert posters and cuttings from The New York Times Book Review, to which Ms. Smith contributes.
I cannot buy another copy, I suppose, unless I intend to keep it under lock and key – as previous librarians used to do with anything that could be considered erotic or licentious. I would prefer to avoid that route. Hopefully, Patti will come home soon.