When I was a child and confined to bed with some illness, my mother used to read to me, often from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. I particularly liked “The Land of Counterpane,” in which a child creates a world of his own. His counterpane (quilt) was the terrain on which he sent his soldiers out to do battle. I, too, created wars—between buttons from the button box: every color, every size, those no longer needed or that were never to be returned to the article of clothing from which they had fallen. I’d race them down my knees, push them from one end of a cardboard shoe-box cover to the other, my young imagination totally engaged. So now I want to return to A Child’s Garden of Verses, to recall the pleasures of being alone: perhaps digging a hole in the sand, looking out a train window, entering a bakery and keeping all the muffins for myself. Speaking of being alone, I’m also looking forward to Jonathan Lethem’s new book of essays, More Alive and Less Lonely: On Books and Writers (Melville House). His use of language and swift changes of subject still delight; his intelligence and knowledge of so many topics bowls me over. I need his humorous and informed take on life.
Rosalyn Drexler is a New York–based artist, playwright, and novelist.