Possibly even disturbed. Nay, even distrubed. And distroubled too. All of them. Because some unknown person, possibly not a million miles away from me may be all of this and more. Some individual who not inconceivably shares this city with me, who tromps over the same cobbles, rides in the same trams and patronises the same bookshops as me is a mutilater of book(s).
Last weekend I discovered a second-hand Johanna Lindsay novel with a full smutectomy. A surgical boob-removal of the printed kind.
Ladies (and gentlefolk who haven't turned away at the signs of an impending girlie froufrou rant) I am speaking of Brave the Wild Wind here. By Johanna Lindsay. Published in 1984. I read this book when I was fourteen. I may have ended up with some slightly peculiar ideas about ranching in late 19th century Wyoming, but I was not scarred for life. I knew breasts existed by then, even if they were but a distant dream. Heaving or not, they didn't do much sullying that I noticed. I still offer my seat to old people and pregnant women in crowded buses. I floss and eat a fibre-rich diet.
But the copy of this book that I picked up over the weekend to flick through in a wavelet of aqua-and-tangerine-tinged nostalgia has been altered by nameless hands. A knife has been used to carefully cut out lines of thund'rous passion. Or even just the odd thund'rously passionate word or two on certain pages.
Now these days, I might take issue with some aspects of the book that didn't particularly bother me when I first unearthed it in the stacks of a local library many, many moons ago. Lets just say it's "of its time". And in certain ways this actually makes it kind of interesting to revisit 20-odd years later.
But as for the slice and dice operation? A couple of possibilities occur to me.
I can't help but think that if gaps are the aim of the exercise, then this level of effort to excise squidgy bits from reading material indicates the determination to Make A Point. Look! Look at the gaps! Look at the emptiness where once was badness! Gentle readers, see how you too can save your fragile minds from this pollution! Seize your x-acto knives and free yourselves from the chains of overly-wrought passion!
So this leaves me with at least one possible alternative.
2. You know those notes created by cutting words out of printed material favoured by many old-skool whodunnits? After enough coffee I can imagine at least a few occasions when life in Prahahaha would require that someone communicate anonymously and yet amateurishly the need to press mounds, skim curves, and pebble all manner of things. It's that kinda place. Sticky glue, print-stained fingers and all.
But I do worry about what they did to the mule.