What a charming little book. The binding is tan canvas buckram, black lettering on the spine and front cover. The black floral or ivy design is attractive and repetitive and is accented by a faint green background. The green complements the black lettering and cloth binding. The proportions are pleasing, and that it is squatty makes it even more so. It is perfectly palm-sized. The title page is also a work of art. Given the subject matter, I think it is a hoot that the book presents itself as a generally serious undertaking. The paper is on the thick side, ample margins, with type set in italics and capitals hither, thither, and yon. Newman’s illustrations suit the text to a T. Really a fine marriage of image and narrative. Ade’s verbal economy is staggering considering how forcefully he paints a picture and conjures a feeling and makes it hilarious at the same time.
This is the sort of book Geneva Henderson kept at the checkout desk at her shop on Bransford Avenue near 100 Oaks in Nashville. I visited that little cottage-turned-bookshop probably weekly, on average, all through college and the couple years following. She kept small books like this by the check-out desk. Maybe she hoped they would be impulse buys or because their size was such that the desktop was a handy place to keep them. It was a two bedroom house of either the late 30s or perhaps immediate postwar vintage. Small proportions all the way around. So naturally she filled each and every available space with shelves. She named it ‘Book Discoveries.’ Apt name. I anticipated discovering something new. But i came to appreciate even more her warm and cheerful spirit. She was always up for conversation in spite of clearly not feeling well, often I might add, from chemotherapy treatments. Some days she would not feel up to it. The young guy she hired to fill-in thought he knew books; perhaps he knew how to leverage the budding internet for online sales, perhaps, but his desk persona left a lot to be desired. I never chatted with him. Also, I never got the vibe from that dude that he was even really a bookish person at all. Geneva, however, had been a bookish person for 70 years or more. Sometimes she set aside a few new arrivals for me to see before she put them out for general browsing. Once among them were some owned by J. W. Shepherd. I will always remember that kindness. The dude just sat behind the side desk hunched over a monstrosity of a desktop computer. Ah well, this isn’t about him. He would make a good subject for George Ade and Clyde Newman, though. Be that as it may, Ade is exactly the kind of thing she would have liked, and exactly the kind of thing she would have pointed out to me, giggling as she recommended it. I guess that is why when I read it I think of her, and that shop.
I hope you enjoy this one. I might post another sometime. They are inspired.
The Fable of the Caddy Who Hurt His Head While Thinking.
One Day a Caddy sat in the Long Grass near the Ninth Hole and wondered if he had a Soul. His Number was 27, and he almost had forgotten his Real Name.
As he sat and Meditated, two Players passed him. They were going the Long Round, and the Frenzy was upon them.
They followed the Gutta Percha Balls with the intent swiftness of trained Bird Dogs, and each talked feverishly of Brassy Lies, and getting past the Bunker, and Lofting to the Green, and Slicing into the Bramble—each telling his own Game to the Ambient Air, and ignoring what the other Fellow had to say.
As they did the St. Andrews Full Swing for eighty Yards apiece and then Followed Through with the usual Explanations of how it Happened, the Caddy looked at them and Reflected that they were much inferior to his Father.
His Father was too Serious a Man to get out in Mardi Gras Clothes and hammer a Ball from one Red Flag to another.
His Father worked in a Lumber Yard.
He was an Earnest Citizen, who seldom Smiled, and he knew all about the Silver Question and how J. Pierpont Morgan done up a Free People on the Bond Issue.
The Caddy wondered why it was that his Father, a really Great Man, had to shove Lumber all day and could seldom get one Dollar to rub against another, while these superficial Johnnies who played Golf all the Time had Money to Throw at the Birds. The more he Thought the more his Head ached.
MORAL: Don’t try to Account for Anything.