And time grows short until our first meeting of 2012 -- at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday, Jan. 24, when the Classic Book Group assembles at the Gunter branch of the Rapides Parish Library System in Libuse off Highway 28 East.
I've had the 2012 list of classics to read since the 2011 November meeting -- we do not meet in December -- and yet ... and yet ...
To echo Edgar Allan Poe's unnamed narrator, "why WILL you say that I am mad?"
Yes, Poe -- his short stories are on the list for August this year.
February's book I have -- "The Moonstone" by Wilkie Collins -- which is followed in March by "The Last of the Mohicans" by James Fennimore Cooper. That one I have as an abridged audiobook.
But the book by Betty Smith for the month of January, where is it?
I know I have a copy, a recent one -- no, I don't know when purchased, but I have it ... somewhere ... among thousands of books I've collected across the decades.
There remains only one sure way, only one, of locating my copy of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."
"How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story" -- No that's not me, that's Poe's unnamed narrator again. "The Tell-Tale Heart." But that's for August.
And once I do find -- if I find it in time -- my copy of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn," then I must search for my copy of "Lorna Doone" by Richard Blackmore -- the book we're to read for the month of April.
Yes, then, and then, I must conduct a search for "Dead Souls" by Nikolai Gogol to read for the month of May.
"Kim" -- no, not my wife Kim, the book by Rudyard Kipling -- that's our ticket for adventure for the month of June.
I could have bought an audiobook copy of Kipling's "Kim" from Goodwill recently but as I recall one cassette was missing in action.
That's half the year -- "Vanity Fair" by William Makepeace Thackeray is scheduled to occupy our reading schedule during the month of July.
Finally, it is August. However ...
"It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old ..." Tree? Growing in Brooklyn?
Ah, Poe has a toe-hold in my brain! Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe!
"Keeping time, time, time,
"In a sort of Runic rhyme,
"To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
"From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells- ..."
There remains, I repeat, only one sure way, only one, of locating my copy of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."
Torture, yes, like, like, like "The Turn of the Screw" by Henry James, our reading for the month of September.
Whither October? No one knows what evil lurks in the hearts of librarians, for the book will be whatever The Big Read dictates for Rapides Parish this year.
But I'm not worried if there's blood, oh, no -- "I had been too wary for that. A tub had caught all - ha! ha!" Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart" gives me away again!
Our final meeting for 2012 will be in the Thanksgiving month of November and we shall be giving thanks for the wit of P.G. Wodehouse that allows our reading to be "Carry On, Jeeves."
Yes, I'd seen the movie "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" so I am familiar with the book by default ... surely, surely, I can still attend but ...
"... they suspected! - they knew! - they were making a mockery of my horror!-this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! and now - again! - hark! ..."
No, no, it's Poe, Poe ...
"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! - tear up the planks! here, here! - ..."
That's where I'll find my copy of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."
In Brooklyn! Or in my book room five minutes from now. Must continue searching ... unless ... there's a copy at the library I can check out in time!