SA4QE 2013 - Diana Slickman - Chicago Illinois, United States

A day late! (A day late and a dollar short, my 6th grade teacher would have said.) I realized in a panic yesterday evening that it was Russ's birthday and that I hadn't had, and wouldn't have, a chance to 4Qate. Despair!  This morning I grabbed, at random (as is my custom) a book from the Hoban stack. The Lion of Jachin-Boaz and Boaz-Jachin. Good.  I opened to a page that had a piece of paper (small, square, faded, yellow-ish) stuck in before it.  Read til I came to the passage that wanted to be quoted. Closed the book.  Went to work.  Worked.  Copied out this quote on a piece of bright yellow paper:

'Modern life,' said Jachin-Boaz [to the owner of the bookshop], 'particularly modern life in cities, creates great tensions in people, don't you think?'

'Modern life, ancient life,' said the owner. 'Where there's life there's tension.'

'Yes,' said Jachin-Boaz. 'Tension and nerves.  It's astonishing, really, what nerves can do."

'Well, they have a system, you see,' said the owner.  'When you suffer an attack of nerves you're being attacked by the nervous system.  What chance has a man got against a system?'

'Exactly,' said Jachin-Boaz.  'He could have delusions, hallucinations.'

'Happens every day of the week,' said the owner.  'Sometimes I, for example, have the delusion that this shop is a business.  Then I come back to reality and realize that it's just an expensive hobby.'

I added, as is my custom, "February 4th is Russell Hoban's birthday.  By finding this quote, and reading it, you are taking part in a world-wide celebration of the man and the day."

I headed to The Book Cellar, a book store in Lincoln Square, that is not only a fine bookstore, but one that serves wine and beer, besides. Any old bookstore will serve coffee on the premises; it takes real moxie to allow bookstore patrons access to alcohol.  I parked, I paid the meter, I made my way to the store's front door.  Closed.  Closes early on Tuesday.  Day late! I made my way up Lincoln Avenue, to allow chance the opportunity to lead me to where it wanted me to leave the quote.  Many of the shops were closed and the places that were open weren't the places the quote wanted to be. Finally, I came upon the Sulzer Library, a public library and thought, okay, here it is.  I went in, found the fiction, found the Hs and found no Hoban at all. Despair! Between Hoag and Hobb I stuck my quote. I renewed my library card, and went back out on to the street, in search of congenial spot to raise a glass to Russ.  I almost passed a restaurant called Fork, when I remembered Yogi Berra's excellent advice: "If there's a fork in the road, take it." I drank a very good Manhattan to Russ's memory, and enjoyed a small plate of Italian charcuterie. No one addressed me as "Dottore" and certainly not "Professore" but I passed a pleasant hour, just the same.

Let's drink to absent friends, and to one in particular.


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Chicago Illinois
United States