A Used Book Mystery



At the risk of being of no interest to anyone, I’ll tell the story of a recent used book purchase.

I read a few book review blogs and recently I read a review of the work of George Alec Effinger. Effinger is an author I was not familiar with, and the review did a good job of making his work seem worthwhile to seek out. He is best known for is Sci-Fi work from the 70’s and 80’s, the novel ‘What Entropy Means to Me’ is probably his best known work. From the review his work sounded similar to some of the experimental authors of that time, maybe J.G. Ballard, or the more recent Nicholson Baker. Maybe I’ll pick it up if I come across a copy of something by him, I thought.

So when I was at a library book sale recently and saw a collection of short stories that listed him as one of the included authors on the cover, I picked it up. What do I find when I get it home ? The story by Effinger had been cut out. It was not a case of the entire folio having fallen out from an aged book, it had been cut out by a scissors or an Xacto knife.

While I found the book at a library sale in New Hampshire, it was actually a book from a Maryland high school library. I’m guessing that there was some kind of potentially offensive content that the high school librarian had decided the students could not see, so it was removed. Effinger apparently had a habit of including fictionalized versions of the oddball characters he met in his home base of New Orleans. So maybe there was something that struck a 70’s Maryland librarian as being too strange or risque for the local teens to read. The rest of the book contains fairly standard mid 70’s Sc-Fi, nothing offensive. If I were a high school kid and I came across the missing story, I’d be more likely to want to find that story to see what the problem with it was. The book cost me just fifty cents, so not a big investment, and it does make me want to find something by Effinger even more now.

2 thoughts on “A Used Book Mystery

  1. Intriguing! I’ll be curious to hear what you think of Effinger when you manage to find one of his stories! 🙂

    • From what I’ve read his work can provoke strong reactions, both good and bad. He seems to have been quite a character around New Orleans, spending time in bars collecting stories and characters to use in his fiction.

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