… not least because I think it’s one of those books (like many other high school standards) that yields enough on first reading not to warrant subsequent ones. But every once in a while, it does resonate:
A stout, middle-aged man, with enormous owl-eyed spectacles, was sitting somewhat drunk on the edge of a great table, staring with unsteady concentration at the shelves of books. As we entered he wheeled excitedly around and examined Jordan from head to foot.
“What do you think?” he demanded impetuously.
He waved his hand toward the book-shelves.
“About that. As a matter of fact you needn’t bother to ascertain. I ascertained. They’re real.
“Absolutely real – have pages and everything. I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of face, they’re absolutely real. Pages and – Here! Lemme show you.”
Taking our scepticism for granted, he rushed to the book-cases and returned with Volume One of the Stoddard Lectures.
“See!” he cried triumphantly. “It’s a bona-fide piece of printed matter. It fooled me. This fella’s a regular Belasco. It’s a triumph. What thoroughness! What realism! Knew when to stop, too – didn’t cut the pages. But what do you want? What do you expect?”
He snatched the book from me and replaced it hastily on its shelf, muttering that if one brick was removed the whole library was liable to collapse.
A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to the Mad Dog.