Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Lost Things We Watch & Read

A while back while I was between two excellent books I picked up and read a book that, probably, was not supposed to survive. The book was The Man From UNCLE: The Vampire Affair. A tie-in novel to the 1960's spy tv series, this book takes the intrepid international duo Solo & Kuryakin into the Carpathian mountains.

A couple notes here: One, I read this book as a kid and loved it, and read it over and over. Two, it was already old; I had picked it up for a quarter in a used book store, which is still a habit of mine. Three, my particular copy was lost long ago; the one I have was sent to me by a Warner Books editor who shared my passion for pop culture. Four, this book should be dead.

It's printed on cheap paper, this poor little book I enjoyed, which author David McDaniel probably pored over for, gosh, a month or so. It's a tight little spy thriller. It's one of millions of similar books. I'm not sure I learned to love reading or anything from it, but every one of these little stones probably helped. Would have to. But I'd expect it to be forgotten, for my copy to be the only copy anyone's noticed.

And yet by gum, there's a Goodreads page for it, and a bunch of blogs around the web have mentioned it. No matter what the work, someone out there thinks enough to say something. And that means that chances are, nothing ever gets lost. It's kind of amazing.

Today, oddly on the day my new book comes out, I'm back wearing my day job hat and speaking on a panel about media, and at night I plan to get together with a friend and watch, no kidding, a bootleg DVD of "Mystery in Dracula's Castle," a forgotten jewel-thieves-and-spooky-lighthouse story from the early 70s. (Bootleg, because it's out of print and there's no market big enough to print a DVD of it or, I guess, stream it.) How did it survive all this time? Through second-hand VHS, finally to someone's CD-R?

It is surely possible for books or movies you read or watch today to disappear. But I tell you: to make them disappear, someone would really have to work at it. There's a strange comfort in that.

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