“The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered”

I’ve been catching up on my neglected feeds and such, and yesterday I ran across this:

The one bit of verse that charmed me, when read on the iPad, was Clive James’s brilliant and witty “The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered.” This poem forces you to wonder: What will remainders look like in our digital future? Where’s the 99-cents bin going to be?

Dwight Garner

Wait. There’s a remainder table poem? Naturally, I had to seek it out. I found a copy here, at The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor (he of my favorite writer’s quote ever: “Nothing bad ever happens to a writer; everything is material”).

Here’s the first stanza. Click through to read the rest or listen to Keillor read it.

The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am pleased.
In vast quantities it has been remaindered.
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse,
My enemy’s much-praised effort sits in piles
In the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.
Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aisles
One passes down reflecting on life’s vanities,
Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviews
Lavished to no avail upon one’s enemy’s book—
For behold, here is that book
Among these ranks and the banks of duds,
These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairns
Of complete stiffs.

Maybe this should be The Remainder Table’s mascot poem 😉

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