Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Ruckman Paradox

Whenever I get to feeling down about my abilities as a writer, I know I've got a quick pick-me-up on my bookshelf. Hidden smack against the wall past the fat tomes of J.K. Rowling is a thin book with a blue cover: Melba the Brain, by Ivy Ruckman. I clearly remember pulling this book off the shelf in the back corner of my third-grade teacher's classroom and reading it from cover to cover in about a day. I loved the crazy adventures of Melba, searching for her dog Boots and trying to love and understand Astrocat and escape from the weird world he calls home. I couldn't wait until the day we got a microwave so I could try Melba's experiments and see if I could bring Astrocat to my own house.

Later on, I learned that the author, Ivy Ruckman, lived outside of Salt Lake City, just four hours south of where I live. I always thought it would be fun to look her up, but never even asked because I knew if by chance mom and dad agreed, I'd be too timid to meet her.

As happens with many books you read as a kid (and I'm still looking for the one involving competing bands of girls and boys in a sinister little school in which the girls are plotting to take over everything; at one point as the boys are looking for their classroom desks because the janitor shuffled them around to clean the floor, the boys set off an incendiary device because they inadvertently opened one of the girl leaders' desks [end of segue]) I lost track of this one. It went out of print. I eventually gave up looking for a copy. Until I found this one in a local thrift shop.

Who knew I'd ever find one? And even better, it was signed by the author. Joy!

Then I read the note:

So, this is a personalized copy of the book given from mother to daughter. And daughter cherished it so much she left it at a thrift store in Rexburg, Idaho. No sentimentalist her.

So why is this a pick-me-up? Starts out with the diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks. What I write may not please everyone, but there's some slobbering book fan out there that would be thrilled to find a signed copy of a book by me, even if it got to them in such a backhanded way. So there's hope out there for me as an author, even if I don't float everyone's boat. Just got to find the right kind of people, don't I?

And now the boys are here fighting in the study. Time to beat on them.

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