It was 1990 ... fall ... and I was packing books from a dead man's apartment into a cardboard box off Central Park. The doorman had sold me a nice lot of paperbacks (Danielle Steel, Tim Robbins, Tom Clancy, the usual dreck) for a couple of ten dollar bills. I was stacking them inside the box and I noticed another rattier box sitting by the man's door with what looked like rotting fragments of books in it. I asked my doorman friend "What about those over by the door?" and he said "Those you can have for free, but you have to take them with you. It is just a lot of junk I was going to throw out, most of the books in there are about a 100 years old and some of them were stored beneath a sink."
So I took the box with me when I left and picked through it back at the warehouse that night. Found a few that looked intact.
The next morning, I sat on a plastic milk crate in front of Grand Union station after setting all my books for sale out on a table there.
The first book I had salvaged from the junk box was this one. Man was it good. I had turned over the last page by closing hour at around 2:30 that afternoon. I felt like my mind had blown out of my skull after reading it.
It was a good day for sales, too. I pocketed around $400.00 by the time I packed it up and headed back to the warehouse. Later when I sat in the diner next door for my traditional meal, I could not help but look through the book all over again, rereading some of the more mindboggling sections.
I knew that the book was really important at the time even if all of it was unfamiliar to me. It took me about 20 years to put it all together with everything else I had read.
I saw a photo of the dead man I had inherited the books from. He was a wealthy creepy Addams family-looking dude with a very large, almost freakish skull and red hair. The connection did not occur to me for a long, long time. Kind of sad nobody came to pick up his books or most of his possessions. I can't help but wonder what else I might have found if I had picked through his belongings.