Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Two Towers Bookbinders' Curse

Of the books in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, "The Two Towers" is bar none my favorite. We're kind of in interim space here, with the fellowship broken, the threat at Helms Deep, the looming treachery of Saruman and the insiduous, resting but not restive evil of Sauron. I love how Tolkein paces the novel, breaking the narrative up between sets of adventurers and not taking shortcuts when he goes back to tell another part of a story that we've already heard from one perspective. It's masterful writing.

And, apparently, cursed.

Not cursed in that the writing is bad, or that the characters face dangers, or anything like that. It's just that I've never in my entire life, through about a dozen copies of the book, found one that'll survive more than three or four readings. They always, without question, fall apart, pop pages, lose covers and whatnot until I get frustrated, get a new copy and throw the old one away. It doesn't matter if I get an old copy from a thrift store or a new copy from the book store. Within three or four readings, they fall apart. And it's not that I'm hard on books. I'm rather anal about book care. And I re-read many books many times, and it's always my copy of "The Two Towers" that falls apart, nothing else. I can even find other books in worse shape at the thrift store, and it's invariably Tolkien's middle work that falls apart. I don't know why.

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