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Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

I know everybody is really excited about the debut of Lisa Mantchev’s “Eyes Like Stars,” but there’s been something weighing heavily on my conscience and I can no longer stay silent.

I’m amazed how easily a pure heart and good intentions can be lead astray. I hope that fragility will be taken into account as I lay my own heart out for judgment, and, Gentle Reader, I beg forgiveness for the darkness of the deeds done. But though I have many ways to rationalize what happened, in the end, there can be no question of my hands have wrought, and if I must bear this blight upon my soul… …then I shall at least honor one last commandment as I take my place as a Son of Cain.

I have dealt death to an innocent. I’ve tried to hide it. I’ve tried to cover it up, and forget about it in the joy of current events, but like a tell-tale heart, I see my victim everywhere I turn. The very name hangs in the air like an anthem, like a chorus. It is a parade of triumph for our Victorious General, and only I burned by what was wrought in her name.

It was in service to a valiant goal. The bitterest turns so often come that way, do they not? It wasn’t the taking of a life, it was investing of life, and for a little while it did not matter where the parts of the whole had come from.

But the creature is alive, and the bodies are buried and I have the dry withered voice in my ear, the voice of conscience proscribing against hubris.

I killed. I killed her child, given to me from her hand. Given to me with love and honor, and I killed it. By her request. With her approval. But I did it.

It’s only an ARC edition. Not the final version of the book. And I have copies of the released edition, the metaphoric first fruits of the vine. But this was my ARC. Signed. To me, and to the darling girls who helped me.

Then Lisa Mantchev wanted to put sample content for the website, and the volume’s binding made scanning unworkable. And the black business fell upon me. Sidekick. Technical Advisor.


I couldn’t even give it a clean death. Instead, I pulled the cover from the binding, and then leaf by leaf I ripped the very pages out of my very own signed copy of the true first edition of Lisa Mantchev’s first novel.

I don’t pretend that I did it with any ease. I was raised to a tradition that held books as treasure, to be passed on when I was done with them. I am careful with them, far more so than people realize. Many of my most read books still creak when they’re opened. And now I have desecrated a book. That book.

The only time I used a knife was to carve away the binding to make the pages separate easily. As I did it, my mind’s eye saw the pattern of filleting a fish. But a fish is food, not treasure. Not the firstborn of my friend’s mind. Not jealously held as a prize after so many years of bragging to my friends about knowing an author with a book deal.

Even after the deed was done, I couldn’t throw it out. I couldn’t discard the body. I killed it, but that didn’t stop me from loving it. So I ignored the body. I walked by it and didn’t look.

And then I did look. And I knew what I had done. And I knew what I had to do.


For the record, the guilt is real. The inability to throw out the defaced book is real. But the outcome is actually a little bit cool.

I can’t share it yet. Give me another day or two. Lisa “Frankenstein” still has to yell “Throw the switch.”

(And then I have to figure out how to actually, you know, throw the switch.)

Posted in books, life.

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3 Responses

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  1. ej says


  2. scott james magner says

    you will spend eternity reweaving a binding for thos pages from the chin hair of nutria. A nutria, not plural, in the very special hell reserved for editors and CAnadians. Just not at the same time.

  3. Passionista says

    LOL I didn’t know where you were going with this at first! I feel for you, I can’t imagine actually bending back the cover on a book let alone killing it.

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