Itchy fingers

This isn’t the first time I’ve posted about wanting to invite a library book to take up permanent residence in my collection.  There was that Thomas Merton book way back around the time I began this blog, for instance. And the Nancy Marculewicz volume (now, alas, out of print) on making gelatin prints that I want so badly I’ve been haunting used bookstores and library sales.  And I haven’t even told you about the time I checked out Maggie Gleezer’s wonderful book on baking artisan breads about 6 times in a row. I’m convinced that this is why my local library now has limits on how many times you can renew a book.

The librarian finally looked at me in a pitying way and whispered, “Did you know there’s a bookstore right across the street?”*

But, anyway, now there’s this wonderful little volume, currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. If you mean by “celebrating” that I knelt down on the floor in the library stacks and just read books about Chinese brush painting until I got to this one, and brought it home, that is.

As soon as I brought it home, before I even started reading it, I was already online looking for a used copy of my own. And now, for something under $6, my very own nicely used copy (I can’t wait to sniff its ancient pages) is winging its way to me.

Which means I’ll be able to get out my ink sticks and ink stone and lovely Chinese brushes and grind the rich black ink and let Mai-Mai Sze come to life again as I try (clumsily) to breath life again into her wonderful paintings. Like these:

And this one, my favorite:

The translation makes reference to the fact that the people in the bottom left illustration are playing chess. It looks to my as if they are playing “go,” an old and venerable game that’s easy to learn but devilishly difficult to master.

Like Chinese brush painting.  Hurry, Mai-Mai Sze! Hurry and show me what you know. Preferably before the librarians abolish my borrowing privileges.


*I did actually go and buy the bread book. And used it well and with great success for several years. Alas, it was one of the books lost in the great flood that took place two years ago when a pipe burst in the ceiling over our pantry while we were out of town for two weeks and the house was locked up tight. Let’s just say hot, damp, wet books are not happy books. I’m back to looking for another copy of the Glezer book. Some terrible person seems to have actually stolen our library’s copy.


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