So a few minutes ago I was doing a Fantastic Strangelings Book Club zoom with Virginia Feito while we discussed serial killers, true crime documentaries and I vomited all of my ridiculous Mrs. March theories on her and it was so much fun but then this thing happened that I have to write down because you need to know why I’m maybe crying a little.
So I’ve written here before about how my late granny was the inspiration for the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club and how she shared all her strange and wonderful books with me when I was young (possibly too young, but there is no greater guilty pleasure than reading a book you shouldn’t be reading) and how whenever I pick a book for the club I pick the one I think my granny would like the most. Mrs. March was one of the most grannyesque-books I’ve ever read so I knew instantly it was the one even though it was a wee bit darker than my usual picks because as soon as I read it I had a thousand theories and desperately wished that granny was still around so I could share it with her.
A few years ago when she moved into a memory home (fuck you, dementia) she gave me a small stack of the books we’d loved together. Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King. All first editions in terrible shape because she (like me) believed good books should be used and loved and carried everywhere and shared with everyone you know.
One of the books she gave me was Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives and during the zoom call I thought I saw that exact book right behind Virginia. Like…the exact same book. But that would be weird as hell because that book is so specific and was printed before we were even born and also Virginia lives in Spain but it felt so much like a small wink from my granny that I couldn’t ignore, so I emailed Virginia and was like, “Weird question but is that the 1972 edition of The Stepford Wives behind you? This one specifically?”
And she was like, “That’s exactly right! I got it at the wonderful second-hand bookstore ‘Desperate Literature‘ in Madrid. Mine says ‘book club edition’ on the inside flap?”
And I looked inside and guess what? So does mine.
So this amazing book club that I started in homage to my grandmother who inspired me to take chances on new books and that saved my bookshop and my sanity during the last year and a half? The books that my grandmother passed on to me that shaped my love of books were from her book club…one I didn’t even know she’d ever been in. And her copy of The Shining from 1977? Book club edition. The 1978 copy of The Stand? Book club edition. All of them were new and untested books mailed to her when she was not much older than I am now. And now I mail new and untested books to people all over the world to keep the story going.
I know it’s just a coincidence, and that book-of-the-month clubs were very popular in the 70s and that probably there are lots of copies out there even as far away as Spain, but this feels too on-the-nose not to at least acknowledge, because these strange moments are what make life seem a little bit magical, and they’re too rare to not hold close and celebrate.
So I thought I would share this one with you.
The world is so small and beautiful sometimes.
Thank you for being part of mine.
PS. If you missed our live talk on zoom we’ll put it up on the Nowhere Youtube page soon and you can see me and Virginia getting progressively drunker as we make plans to impersonate Charles Dickens. Related: I shouldn’t be allowed to interview authors.