My husband and I are yard-sale junkies, like our mothers before us. When we walk in our neighborhood, we rarely pass a cluster of rusty tea-kettles and CD-holders without taking a closer look. In our primes, we were both shameless appropriators of sidewalk goods: in Cambridge, MA, I once carried a plywood bookshelf nearly a mile home. His greatest find: a complete set of nesting screwdrivers. Alas, the great New York bed-bug crisis of 2010, along with our adult wisdom about the protein contents of other people’s futons, has made us wary of taking home anything upholstered.
Ann Arbor has always been a place where creativity thrives. Colorful murals, graffiti art, and whimsical fairy doors grace downtown building exteriors. Filmmakers, musicians, architects, poets, painters, publishers—artists and writers from all over the world are drawn to Ann Arbor for its diverse community, educated population, and vibrant campus atmosphere.
I love research. There, I said it. I can never take it back now because the Internet is forever, like memories of a bad boyfriend or your grandmother’s recipe for banana bread. As someone who works in both the English and Library worlds, I have a strong interest in making sure people understand their rights to access information, where information is located, and how to acquire the information they want. As much as I love classic literature and the old-fashioned ideal of a tortured, talented writer sitting alone in a garrett surrounded by piles of typed or handwritten sheets, I’m glad my days of romanticizing that lifestyle are over. For as much as I love solitary afternoons staring into the pine trees, I don’t know if I could ever fully give up the amazing amount of access to information we have these days.
Moby-Dick does not belong to Melville—not anymore. Like any popular or important book, the idea of Moby Dick has long resided at least partially in the public consciousness. But when the text itself is owned by all of us, it becomes as malleable as its wide readership. A recent tour of Moby-Dick editions, many of them from the Rare Books collection at my university library, revealed to me just how varied the textual experience of such a book can be. In the space of a morning, with a book cart in front of you, it is possible to encounter many Ishmaels.