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Rachel Cohen

New Piece in Threepenny Review

The Fall 2014 issue of the Threepenny Review has a lovely symposium on libraries, with contributions from Oliver Sacks, Francine Prose, Alberto Manguel and many others. My own short piece begins:

One way to organize my thoughts

about libraries would be to begin

with childhood. The public library in

Ann Arbor. Metal bins outside into

which one could slide books, like letters.

Then the dim interior, and mazes

of shelves. Dry smell, display cases—

maps, animals, Michigan—their contents

and purposes above my head. At

last, far back, low down, the shelves for

me. Knees to the ground, examining

thin spine after thin spine—anything

might be back there, but my most

prominent memory, the strongest

returning satisfaction, is connected to

the family of the Smalls, round heads

and eyes, one story having to do with a

fire engine, and a closing line: “That’s

all for the small Smalls.”

The symposium, and the rest of my piece, are available in the print issue. You can find out more here: