Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Dear megastore,

I think I have too many books. Well, they can't fit on my shelves.


Needs More Shelves


Dear Shelves-y,

You probably do have too many books. We can't all live in the Library of Babel, which, as a fictional construct, has an infinity of shelves and thus an infinity of books. You, my dear Shelves-a-lot, are not a fictive construct. Well, maybe you are, but you are not infinite. Well, who knows, maybe you are infinite, but I think it's unlikely, because you're writing to me. Well, maybe you're not actually writing to me.


You probably do have too many books, Shelvesford. The problem is, which ones to get rid of. The other problem is, which books not to buy. Have you heard of the public library (not the Babel branch)? The books at that library are, whilst in your possession, only temporary. Temporary books is one solution. Put them on a table, and you avoid the shelf conundrum.

My dear Shelvesmore, of all the things to have too much of, books are not so bad. To have too many of, you see, you see where I'm going, right? It's not like shoes, which are clearly a vanity. Well, sure, books, too, are a kind of vanity. Sure, of course you've read all those different versions of Proust AND Moby Dick.

Shelvesniss Everdeen: just, I don't know. Just put your books in stacks on the floor like a normal person.

And may the volumes be ever in your favor,



Dear megastore,

How do you say no when people want you to do things that you don't want to do, you don't have time to do, it's wrong of them to ask you to do, and also you're really tired both of being asked and of summoning up your inner strength to think, then say, no?

So, so tired,

Ms. Yessayer


My dear Miss Yesmonger,

Like most things, saying no is a matter of practice. Just look in a mirror, knit your brow ever so slightly, and say it. It's easy, just one syllable, the n with its Proto Indo European history of negation vibrating between the tongue and the back of the teeth, the o the universal sound of indescribable wonder. The Wonderful No. Say it.

Come on: say it like you mean it, Mistress Yes-to-all, you aren't getting anywhere if you don't put your back into it.

What, are you afraid people will be mad at you? Are you suffering from the Indispensable Man Complex? wherein you believe at some level of madness that nothing, not one thing will get done if you, the Indispensable Yes Monkey Man, do not show up (saying YES I said yes I will YES) to do it? 

Fine, Yeswhillikers, go ahead. Just say yes to everything. But don't expect me to feel bad for you when you're ranting about your too-much-to-dos or your I'm-so-stressed-out.

Are you ready now, Yesterday's News? It's really the only way. Say it with me now:

No I mean it No I won't NOoooooooooooo.  

Yours in the negation of the negation, whatever that means,


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