Maybe I’m Becoming Too Bookish

I walked over to the grocery store tonight through a pleasant dusting of new snow. On my way back I was crossing through a parking lot when I realized the random scrapings of fresh-fallen snow under my feet weren’t random at all: I was walking through a word about twenty feet long, inscribed into the snowy surface of the lot. As a philologist I was instantly captivated, of course, and as a fantasy reader (and writer) I was reminded of some electrifying scenes from The Silver Chair (my favorite of the Narnia books, and I hope they never make a movie of it).

So I had to stop and read the word, but (since I was standing in the middle of it) I had to take it in installments. The first part of the word was AS and when I turned around to look, the second part seemed to be HOF.

“AS-HOF,” I muttered. A temple of one of the Aesir. Someone had written an Old Norse word in giant snow letters and I had just happened to walk through it. How cool was that?

Unfortunately, on second glance, it turned out that there was a second S after AS and what I had thought was F was really LE. I reread the word and was no longer pleased to be standing in the middle of it.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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8 Responses to Maybe I’m Becoming Too Bookish

  1. al_zorra says:

    Your first reading was so much better.


    Which then leads to contemplation of a person who would go to all that care to write the temple’s name legibly and visibly in the snow, vs. the contemplation of a person who do all that to write ah.

    I just know I like the first person very much, and the second one, well, no so much.

    Love, C.

    • JE says:

      “Your first reading was so much better.”

      Yes–one of those cases where misprision trumps an accurate reading.

  2. HAHAHA! This goes straight to my memories. You can never be too bookish; it leads to entries like this.

    • JE says:

      It was pretty funny–one of those “smacked with a rubber chicken” moments. I think I might use it in a story somewhere: a magic word that changes while you stand on it would be a good way to trap a philologist.

  3. Anonymous says:

    James, I like what your first impression says about you.

    And since it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from philologist to bibliophile, I’d like to take a moment to recommend a story I read last night. It made me think of you, and then I read this entry, so…

    I’ve done next to nothing useful this month, including read. Yesterday I finally got around to the February issue of F&SF (which of course came out in December). The first half of Ann Miller’s “Retrospect” paints a rich portrait of a bibliophile’s world, from high-dollar auctions of rare works to intellectual discussions of books and literature in the smoke-filled sitting room of a used-book store. I was enthralled. The second half of the story is about the danger of sending a book back in time, which had me less than enthralled (time travel not being my thing), but the payoff at the end is worth reading.

    The story had me googling “hodie adsit, cras absit,” and that, James, is what brought you to mind. After all, everything is better with Latin. 🙂

    –Jeff Stehman

    • JE says:

      Thanks! And I have heard good things about “Retrospect.” Maybe I’ll have to dig up a copy of “next” month’s F&SF.

      “hodie adsit, cras absit”

      Here today, gone tomorrow, I guess?

      It’s true about Latin. They should make a movie about a dragonslayer with a bunch of Latin in it!

  4. hvond says:

    That was one of the most well-written and hilarious posts I have ever had the pleasure to read! James, that is definitely worth a remembrance in a Morlock tale or some such.

    The smile you instigated is still hanging around! Thanks! And, in a way, my thanks to the a-ho who took the time to carve a word in the snow!;)

    • JE says:

      Thanks! I think I will try to sneak it into a Morlock story somewhere. I’m not sure he’d get caught this way, but he might know someone who would be…

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