In the Mail

Thanks to wireless internet access in the house and frequent emails from iTunes, I've become addicted to the pre-order--books, music, whatever. It's true: I may have some impulse control issues, but what I like about the pre-order is that there is no instant gratification. Rather, the gratification comes weeks, sometimes months later, and almost always unexpectedly.

When J.C. and I got back from Michigan the other day, I had Claudia Smith's The Sky is a Well and Other Shorts, a book I pre-ordered three or four weeks ago, waiting in my mailbox.

I haven't yet read the book, though I've read, I would guess, well over half the stories in it already, and I've even taught a couple of them. The reason I bring it up now, besides the whole pre-order business, is because it is probably the most beautiful chapbook I have ever seen. Really. I think I've bought ten or so chapbooks in the last year, and it seems to me the people who are putting them together are usually, obviously, not in it for the money. They're doing it because they love books, and because there are some stories or poems that they want to put out into the world. And so, most of them look very very good. In fact, chapbooks have become, like the pre-order, a minor obsession of mine.

But this one, the first from Rose Metal Press, is truly stunning. It's gorgeous. It's so pretty, in fact, I'm scared to take it on the plane with me tomorrow, because I don't want to mess it up.

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