I went to the public library today to pay off my chikdten’s accumulated overdue fines, which collectively amounted to nearly $80, and pick up another John Le Carre novel, the second in my resolution to read all his books in as nearly the order of publication as I can manage (given whatever holes there are in our library’s collection and whatever may be checked out whenever I go in to pick up my next read–The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, following Call for the Dead).
While there, I also decided to pick up another book by Joseph Conrad, having just re-read Heart of Darkness, a book I still don’t really get, but which has my favorite line in all literature: “Droll thing life is—that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose.”
And I found a Conrad book titled The Nigger of the Narcissus. A bit shocked, although the word appeared often enough in Heartvof Darkness, I picked it up, and, curious about how Conrad’s “nigger” perspective played out, decided to check it out.
But at the desk, the bar code in the book wouldn’t scan. When the clerk tried to look it up, it was not in the system; it had been removed from circulation, but mitvremoved from the shelves.
Why? Shelf space is clearly not the issue. My best guess is the title. At all accounts, I found it both curious and disappointing. Now, perhaps, I’ll have to order it.
If I do, it won’t go on my office shelves; I can guarantee that.