Claire Wolff's Reviews > Memoirs of a Midget

Memoirs of a Midget by Walter de la Mare
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Jul 07, 09

Read in May, 2009

On the bottom shelf of the back room in the cluttered East Village bookstore I stumbled on Miss M. Tattered, in hardcover, in the dark, and with the kind of title that begs to be examined. I read three pages and was enamored, and bought the book without question. Looking back, I now realize this was unusual behavior. I only buy books I've been meaning to read, and have read about, or did read, and have been meaning to find. So Miss M. became very dear to me because I discovered her for myself, without newspaper, book review, website, or recommendation, under the fingerprints of someone who bought her first, new, in 1922. I had never heard of Walter de la Mare, and neither has anyone I've spoken to since meeting him. He is, like Miss M, his own kind of curio, which I hope does not mean that I learned nothing from his work.

This beautiful, sad, twisted novel resonated with me to a frightening degree. Miss M. speaks for young women finding their way in this world of vanities, curiosities, magic, and nature. At once her universe is too large for her to wade in and too small for her to breathe in. And when do we ever come upon obscure novels in original print these days? So Miss M. was like a treasure to me, though only the kind of treasure I am sure that she herself would gladly be. That which is a good friend.
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