Imagine for one moment that every copy of every book ever written was being stored in a giant one-room library. Now imagine that this most extensive archive had been organized in an entirely new way… by birthday. Finally, imagine that it caught fire like the Library of Alexandria before it and only one section escaped - that containing the work of every author born between October 23 and November 21.
If one were browsing those remaining shelves, surrounded by the smoldering coals of a leveled literary world, they might notice something. Sincerity over sensationalism perhaps, or possession over purity. One might notice the remaining names etched in a smokey gold-leaf: Margaret Atwood, Chinua Achebe, Dylan Thomas. For the astrologically astute, the word “Scorpio” might surface.
Those shelves would cradle the soothsayers, the black-earth miners, the puppeteers. Sylvia Plath would be held there, under her fig tree of heartache and determination. Bram Stoker too, writing feverishly a love letter he would send four years late. Psychic Anne Sexton would be there, and the ever-sensuous John Keats. Those shelves would all be haunted… occupied only by the authors of this season.
Eventually, the library would be rebuilt around them, adorned with ornate wallpaper and shining banisters of cherry wood. Its books would be about things and beings and futures, about loyalty and vengeance. It would begin with Michael Crichton and end with Voltaire: holding tight to Fran Lebowitz and J.G. Ballard in between. It would house those authors whose souls were gentle but whose tongues were sharp… whose pens stung the edges of existence.
Sarah J. Bofenkamp is a reader, writer, and librarian living in Palouse, Washington.