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  • 书架上的书本是我们的客人
  • 2014/4/12 21:09:30 来源:重庆教育人生网
  •   整理书架在我这里就好比是排客入座。在把一本书放到另一本书旁边时,我会考虑到各自作者的风格,想象他们对身边这位“邻居”的感受,甚至设想他们交流的话题和对彼此精神世界的影响。你也许觉得我的做法疯狂至极,但谁又没点不足为外人道的怪癖呢?
    I was expecting my sister and her husband for dinner, but she arrived solo.
    “I didn’t feel like bringing him. We just had a big fight,” she said.
    “What about?” I asked.
    “Alphabetising our bookshelves.”
    For most couples, this would be thin gruel for a contretemps. But my sister is a bibliophile and married a man of similar passions. They had just completed a house renovation, a feature of which was a magnificent bookshelf that spanned two floors. All had gone well as they placed their novels, histories, memoirs. But schism had arisen over the biographies. She wanted to shelve them alpha by subject, on the grounds that she wouldn’t necessarily be able to recall the author’s name. (Since she is, herself, a biographer, this view seemed both pragmatic and un-self-aggrandising). But that notion was anathema to her husband, who wanted to follow proper library practice. Heated words had been exchanged.
    I too have a book-loving spouse, but fortunately he adheres to no rigid shelving doctrine. In fact, he prefers to ignore the shelves, piling books around him in tottering redoubts. When he can no longer move freely in his study or get out on his side of the bed without negotiating a mogul field of mounded volumes, he’s happy enough for me to gather the books up and arrange them as I like. If he wants a particular title, he just asks me where to find it. His indifference is fortunate, for my own philosophy is more dewy-eyed than Dewey decimal; more idiosyncratic than ISBN.
    I start out conventionally enough, alpha by author. But while I take account of the first letter of the writer’s surname, I have other ambitions for my shelves that transcend the conveniences of mere alphabetical accuracy. It’s impossible for me to place one book alongside another without thinking about the authors, and how they would feel about their spine-side companion.
    I arrange my shelves as I would seat guests at a dinner party. Anne Tyler and Anthony Trollope both seem devoted to a diligent scrutiny of manners. So I imagine them, shelved side by side, comparing notes on the mores of their respective eras.
    Claire Messud and Alice Munro? I’m sure they’d get on. But Norman Mailer and Anne Michaels? I think not. Best move the poetic and exquisitely sensitive Michaels next to Andre Makine—a much better match. Mailer can slide back along the shelf to sit beside D. H. Lawrence.
    I wouldn’t dream of subjecting Jane Austen or Margaret Atwood to the misogyny of Martin Amis (although they might find him rich material for an eviscerating satire). Paul Auster seems mensch enough to manage Amis, and then Atwood and Austen can get on together undisturbed.
    Sometimes I stand there, book in hand, paralysed by indecision: Is it okay to shelve Jonathan Safran Foer next to Jonathan Franzen? Perhaps the two Jons are dear friends in real life, but what if they dislike each other? Safest, maybe, to put William Faulkner in between.
    I’m not always so benevolent. When Thomas Mallon gave one of my novels a lacerating review, I retaliated by reshelving him. I snatched him from his place beside an author I thought he might enjoy—David Malouf—and wedged him instead alongside Toni Morrison, hoping that her liberal feminism might prove a thorn in his conservative spine.
    As mad as all this is, it gets worse. Sometimes I ascribe metaphysical effects to my shelving choices. Placing Tim Winton alongside Virginia Woolf, I wonder whether his life-affirming wisdom might ameliorate her existential despair.
    I thought I was alone in my craziness, until I confessed it to a friend whom I consider a model of sanity in most respects. “That’s nothing,” he said. He confided that he had a “punishment shelf” in his garage, reserved for writers he does not like.
    When my sister came solo to dinner, I counseled her to compromise with her spouse, pointing out that his shelving proclivities could be far more eccentric, offering up my own as an example. “Yes,” she nodded sagely, “You are mad. But it must run in the family.” She then confessed that one day she’d been horrified to find a book by my husband, Tony Horwitz, shelved next to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. She’d rushed to reshelve him.
    我在等妹妹和妹夫来家里吃晚饭,但只有妹妹一个人来了。
    “不想带他来。我们刚刚大吵了一架。”妹妹说。
    “怎么回事?”我问道。
    “为了按字母顺序排列书架上的书的事。”
    大多数夫妻都不会为这样的小事发生口角。但我妹妹是个书痴,嫁的丈夫也同样爱书成痴。最近他们刚刚重新装修了房子,房子的亮点之一就是有了一个纵贯两层楼的大书架。当他们把小说、史书、回忆录一一摆上书架时,一切都还顺利。但是到了摆放传记的时候,矛盾出现了。妹妹要按照书的主题的首字母排序,因为她不可能总能想起作者的名字。(她自己就是个传记作家,这种想法看起来既实用,又不会过分抬高自己。)但是妹夫对此却表示深恶痛绝,他想要按照图书馆的正规做法来排列。两人为此大吵了一番。
    我也有个爱书的丈夫,所幸的是对于怎么排书,他倒没有什么严格遵守的清规戒律。事实上,他宁可不理会书架,任凭大量的书在身边堆积如山、摇摇欲坠。直到他在书房里不能自如地活动了,或者他不得不跨过一大堆的书才能从他那边下床时,他才会十分欣然地让我收拾他的书,而且我爱怎么放就怎么放。如果他想要某本书,只要问问我去哪里找就行了。他这样不闻不问倒是件好事,因为我有自己的原则:我的排书法比杜威的十进制图书分类法还不切实际,比国际标准图书编号还独特怪异。
    我一开始用的方法也十分老套,即按照作者姓氏的首字母顺序排列。但在考虑作者姓氏首字母的同时,我在排书方面还有其他的野心,这个野心不仅仅满足于准确按照字母排序带来的方便。对我来说,把一本书放到另一本书的旁边时,我一定会考虑到这两本书各自的作者,想象他们比肩相邻时的感受。
    整理书架在我这里就好比是排客入座。安妮·泰勒和安东尼·特洛普两个人都致力于对礼仪的研究,孜孜不倦、精细入微。所以我让他们两个在书架上肩并肩,想象着他们对各自时代的道德法则进行切磋。
    克莱尔·梅苏德和艾丽丝·门罗?我确信他们一定能合得来。但诺曼·梅勒和安妮·迈克尔斯呢?我看不成。迈克尔斯是个充满诗意、分外敏锐的人,最好把他挪到安德烈·马金旁边,这样更加相配。梅勒则可以顺着书架往回挪,待在劳伦斯旁边。
    我无法想象把简·奥斯丁或玛格丽特·阿特伍德放在厌恶女性的马丁·艾米斯旁边(尽管这两位女士可以在他身上找到狠命讽刺的丰富素材)。保罗·奥斯特一身正气,看起来足以镇得住艾米斯,这样阿特伍德和奥斯丁就可以不受干扰地和睦相处了。
    有时候,我站在那儿,手里拿着书,却拿不定主意,不知怎么办好:把乔纳森·萨福兰·弗尔和乔纳森·弗兰岑放在一起合适吗?可能这两个乔纳森在现实生活中相交甚好,但他们要是彼此厌恶怎么办呢?也许最保险的做法是把威廉·福克纳放到他们中间。
    我也不是总那么好心肠。托马斯·马伦对我的一本小说评论尖刻,我就把他的书换了个位置作为回敬。我本来把他放在他可能会喜欢的戴维·马洛夫旁边,现在我把他塞到托尼·莫里森旁边,希望托尼的自由主义女性哲学会刺痛他保守的神经。
    这些做法已经很疯狂了,但我还有更过分的时候。有时我觉得我对于书的排列会产生超自然的影响。我会把蒂姆·温顿放在弗吉尼亚·伍尔夫旁边,我想看看他积极向上的人生智慧是否能减轻伍尔夫对于存在的绝望感。
    我一直认为我的这种疯狂做法很异类,直到我把这种做法透露给一个朋友。在我看来,这个朋友在许多方面都堪称理性的楷模。而他说:“这不算什么。”他坦白告诉我,他的车库里有个“惩罚书架”,专门用来存放那些他不喜欢的作家的书。
    我妹妹独自赴宴的这天,我劝她要学会和丈夫妥协,我以自己为例,说她丈夫的排书癖好还不算太古怪。“不错,”她深明事理地点点头,“你真的够疯狂。不过咱家人肯定都有这个毛病。” 后来她坦白说,有一天她发现我丈夫托尼·霍维茨的一本书放在了阿道夫·希特勒的《我的奋斗》的旁边,吓了她一大跳,赶紧跑过去把托尼的书重新放了个地方。

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