Dear Ms. Anise: Thank you. We have received the books and everyone was psyched to see the sheer variety although the military history books especially that one on Interpol seem to be the most popular. Already there is a wait list for it. We do have a couple of book requests. A medic here would like to read Hemingway or the Papa as you call him. He is asking for the two-part short story, Big Two-Hearted River, and another officer is asking for a copy of Henderson the Rain King, by Saul Bellow. A few others are asking for any Kurt Vonnegut books. If possible, I would like a copy of Miss Lonely Hearts by Nathanael West. Sincerely, Captain Bates
Dear Captain Bates: Greetings from America’s largest college town — my fair city filled with universities but actually live in a small town nearby, by the airport. I’m the book exchange representative assigned to you. Mrs. Rowe told me that your library is in dire need of books.
Libraries are dear to my heart, in our town the library supports a lot of people not just with books but movies, internet access and free museum passes. Much has changed since my school years – camping out on long tables – searching usually in vain for anything close to literary criticism to help support our theories on the required term papers. Our options were limited to certain literary heavy hitters: Hemingway (or as folks often call him “the Papa”), John Steinbeck, and F. Scott Fitzgerald and even those books were sparse. Many Saturdays would journey with friends to the city for the large public library there, to spend the day searching.
Could only put in so many book requests and back then there weren’t any computers tracking if the books were in the library, or checked out so you had to wait and see how many were retrieved from the massive stacks. This sometimes just for a paragraph or so of text, and if you were lucky you found what you were originally looking for to support your paper or perhaps you even changed what you were writing about because of what you found or were not able to find.
Happy to report that things have changed, our beloved town library has computers to help people find books, to request them from neighboring libraries, and there is a decent selection of literary criticism. Many of the books no longer in circulation are sold off in the library’s basement thrift store. Narrow but cheerful, it’s cluttered basement space filled with donated books as well as other items, and all monies raised go toward the purchase of new books. A very nice library volunteer is in charge down there. And when I told him I was selecting books for your base — he made me a “special deal” which really wasn’t necessary but very kind. Enclosed is a good selection of history and nonfiction books. As for fiction, please let me know if there are any specific requests, certain authors or novels that people would like to read and I’ll see what I can do. Enclosed is a picture of the duck crossing sign we have in town. We have a man-made saltwater lake, and the ducks like to cross from the cove to this lake and must cross the street. Took part in one once, a lady and I stopped traffic while her husband escorted the mother duck and ducklings to the lake. Best regards, Ms. Anise
Dear Mrs. Rowe: Thank you for your letter and quick response. My hope was a book exchange program back home would adopt us. Our unit has been assigned to a remote base. It took some time and serious effort to get us settled in here but our housing situation has greatly improved and the place is pretty well fortified. Our library currently consists of a well-worn collection of Louis L’Amour books and a few romance novels. We have no idea how they ended up here, but we have read them all about twelve times over for the lack of anything else. It would be great to have a selection from our mandatory reading list, and a variety of classic and modern novels, nonfiction and history, especially military history. Thanks to you and we look forward to hearing from your volunteer on the book exchange program. Sincerely, Captain Bates
Six Jane Austen novels.
52 weeks — an epistolary short story —
told over one year.