Over five years ago, when I was moving in with my fiancee, I offloaded two-thirds of my book collection.
It was painful, though in some ways cathartic. A lot of useless university textbooks met their Waterloo during that time, and my epic collection of Bentley Little, Richard Laymon and John Saul paperbacks were given to my good friend Shelley Kinsman.
But there is one book I regret parting ways with: a copy of the Handmaid’s Tale signed, in-person, by Margaret Atwood.
I went with some college newspaper friends in 2003 to an Atwood reading. I’m not quite sure which children’s book it was, I can only assume, given the time frame it was Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes. Anna Guigari was covering the event for New College’s The Window, and my successor to the editor-in-chief mantle, Carla Salvosa asked if I wanted to tag along.
After Atwood and co-performer Dennis Lee — yes he read from Alligator Pie — wrapped things up, they signed books for the kids afterwards. When I approached her she was surprised to see a copy of The Handmaid’s Tale planted in front of her, but she obliged, and she even answered my question:
“Any words of advice for an aspiring writer?”
“Don’t look down.”
That’s what she said, and what she wrote in my book written by her. “To Brian, don’t look down”.
In a rush to cut down my clutter, I accidentally gave it away to a thrift store.
Somewhere out there is a signed paperback. My best bet would be to track it down to the Goodwill that most of my books went to in Whitby. It was on Dundas St., west of Anderson St./Hopkins Rd. I emphasize was because, much like any commercial enterprise on that doomed strip in suburbia, it has closed up shop.
So begins my quest to find my signed copy of the Handmaid’s Tale.
Oddly enough, I managed to keep my signed copies of Stuart McLean’s The Vinyl Cafe Diaries and Alissa York’s Effigy. But in their defense, those books are hardcovers. Paperbacks are so unassuming.
If anyone knows where said book is located, or can pass it along to me, it would be greatly appreciated.