“A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” by Anthony Marra, a
2013 novel set in a war-torn village in Chechnya, was recommended to me by a
couple of friends.
After borrowing a copy from the Saratoga Springs Public
Library and reading the first three pages, I was hooked. I selected it as my
book club’s read the next time it was my turn to pick.
|I love this book, but one copy suffices. The library initially |
insisted I couldn't renew my copy because someone had
reserved it, even though several were in the stacks.
The library's Jeannine Jeter solved the problem.
Marra’s writing is beautifully vivid, his story-telling remarkable. Although the main story
takes place over only five days, readers learn in layers about the past and
future of the main characters as well as those who pass through in only a
sentence. Not a word is wasted in what Ron Charles described in the Washington
Post as “fresh, graceful prose.”
I’m about a third of the way through the book. I knew it was
due any day now, so when I happened to be at the library yesterday, the woman
at the checkout desk scanned my key card: “Tomorrow,” she said. Renew
it, please. “Can’t,” she replied. “Someone reserved it.”
Probably someone in my book club.
Over in the M’s, five or six copies awaited a
borrower. “There’s a bunch of them,” I
said. “Just switch the reserved copy to one of the available ones.”
“Can’t,” she replied. Maybe someone at the Information
Desk could help, she said.
At the Information Desk was Jeannine Jeter, who appreciated the
absurdity of the situation. But she didn’t know how to outsmart the computer
system’s insistence that only my copy of the book would satisfy the waiting
customer, even though several were in the stacks.
Short-term solution to avoid a late fee: Check out one of
the other copies, and return the copy at home before the end of the next day.
A short while later, though, Jeannine sent me a message: She’d
figured out how to switch the reserved book request to an available book, and renewed
the copy I’d originally borrowed. So now I have two on loan, one of which I
will drop off on my way home from work today. I promise.
I love it when someone won’t take no from a computer for an
answer, when someone takes the initiative to tackle and solve a problem, for the
satisfaction of getting it done.
Thank you, Jeannine.