Burgess Meredith & Me

Every time I go to the library, I think about Burgess Meredith. Readers of a certain age will remember the Twilight Zone episode Time Enough at Last. The childhood fantasy of being locked in a library for the weekend has never left me. Neither has the post-apocalypse image of a bereft and furious Meredith sitting on the library floor, piles of books surrounding him like a tattered and musty tutu, his shattered eyeglasses nearby. I was mightily P.O.’d at Rod Serling for that one.

Where else but a library are a building’s entire contents yours for the asking? Not Nordstrom’s, no matter how good the shoe sales. Not the local chocolate shop or my favorite bead store. That delicious sense of expectation I felt as a child has never left me. I still love the limitless possibilities walking through the stacks gives me. Scrolling through a Kindle list doesn’t even nick the feeling of stroking the spines of books, reading their titles through the glare of the protective cellophane covers. What a nerdy kid I must have been, gleeful over an entire shelf of Danny Dunn sci-fi, addicted to those blue fabric-bound biographies that were so maddeningly thin on women’s lives.

Today I took home Kate Christensen’s The Great Man (recommended by two friends); Geraldine Brook’s People of the Book (rereading it in advance of reviewing it for a synagogue luncheon); David Baldacci’s Stone Cold (because I love him), Jane Green’s The Beach House (intriguing plot — an eccentric elderly Nantucket resident rents out rooms of her blufftop home to keep ends meeting); and The Soloist by Steve Lopez (LA Times journalist meets Skid Row violinist). What better joy than leaving the library, a stack of books cradled against the ribcage, the crease in your elbow now a smile of anticipation?

Just be sure your specs are firmly settled on the bridge of your nose.

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10 thoughts on “Burgess Meredith & Me

  1. debra darvick

    We had a funeral to go to in NY and thus two 10-hour drives over four days. Next week’s blog will stem from that. Stay tuned. Thanks for the heads up about the movie. Which role is his?

  2. Aunt Judy

    I’m proud to say you come from a long line of nerds, and that they keep on coming. When I looked up on the internet the burning question, “Why do all cultures seem to accept the concept of a 24-hour day?” I was satisfied with the 9-page answer and then thought, “With whom can I share this?” So I sent it to our high school senior grandson, Sam. His response, “Gram, that was amazing. I was just talking to my Chemistry teacher about that. Thanks for the info!”

  3. galer ganiff

    Ah but our friend Mr. Serling redeemed himself in the episode that centered around one and only one book, “To Serve Man”. Who can ever forget the panic stricken face of Lloyd Bochner at the end of that episode whne his fate is revealed along with the books secret which has finally been decoded! Even though it may pain you I suggest allowing Mr. Serling his steeled irony in this season of forgiving.

  4. writemeg

    I can’t wait to read “People of the Book” — I’m being cheap and waiting until the paperback comes out in December! I’ll be interested to hear how your luncheon goes 🙂

    “The Beach House” has been very popular at my bookstore, too — I’ve heard good things about Jane Green. I’ll have to investigate that one, too!

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