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Pickle Me This

November 19, 2007

Ephemera

I’ve been getting complaints about the magazine rack for ages, that it was full to capacity, and so I decided that today would be the day I got around to it. To tidying it up, I mean, which meant throwing away printed matter— a sacrilege. I would keep the magazines that were under a year old, I determined, but those that were older would be thrown in recycling.

A magazine’s disposability is its very nature, which is hard for some of us to understand. It’s what separates them from books, of course, but I have also learned that ephemera can have value ever-lasting. It is difficult to reconcile this with the finite size of both my house and my husband’s patience, and also with the minimal odds that I will ever need to reference the August 2006 Vanity Fair. Which I’ve thrown away by the way, will never re-remember the contents of, and will probably be none the worse for it.

I do clip though, and I’ve clipped for about ten years and across three continents. I am not sure when I’ll ever need to reference anything within my box o’ clips, but still they’re there, they’re tangible, and quite manageably stored within a small-sized cardboard box. Today before I threw away a stack of old The Walruses, I cut out a short-story by Helen Humphreys, whose context has become different since I read her book last week; “The American Gigantic” by Mark Kingwell, which will be relevant to something else I’m working on; Lisa Moore’s consideration of Newfoundland and Tasmania, among other things.

These articles, clipped and stapled, will join in the box such illustrious company as the Joan Didion “Proust Questionanaire” (Vanity Fair circa 2003), various Chandra Levy sensations, a whole bunch of stuff on apocalypse (from scientific sources– I have long wanted to write a story about a pregnant physicist forecasting the end of the world), profiles of Tina Brown and Bonnie Fuller, Paula Yates memorials, three generations of Presley women in Vogue (August 2004, and somehow Priscilla looks youngest of all of them), Dominick Dunne’s tribute to his brother (VF, March 2004), Heather Mallick on Unless, etc (The Globe & Mail, May 18 2002), and my very favourite (from the National Post, July 8 2001) headlined “Elvis Presley’s cousin killed in shootout with fugitive”.

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