One of the remaining boxes keeps my Nancy Drew collection. Those books will come home with me someday, but I have no inclination to reread them myself, and my daughter is still too young for them.
The other box still holds mysteries. Old friends wait there too, but there are books I barely recognize. Their illustrations are vaguely familiar, titles ring distant bells — I know them from a past life. Indeed, after some 20 years of weeding and sorting, I know that every book there is there for a reason. But what reason?
On my last visit, I plucked out The City Beyond the Gates, by N Roy Clifton. It's copyrighted 1972, but my edition was printed in 1977. Likely I read it when I was 8 years old.
I read it again. It's a dystopia and an allegory. And it leaves a very bad taste in my mouth.
It is probably the very first dystopian fiction I read, something I did develop a taste for. My 8-year-old self was looking for a perfect world, knowing it would never be found. My 8-year-old self did not find this book simplistic, naive, obvious; she thought it was cool. My 8-year-old self learned that other people were looking too, and that some things can be found only in literature.
"No one tells me what to do."
"What you mean is," said the Kemarch, gently, "that you are not aware of anyone's telling you."
I cannot confirm the identity of the author. Perhaps he is this man: Quaker and vegetarian, remembered by RH Thompson.
The most unsettling aspect of the book is, in my view, its illustrations, by Tibor Kovalik. I think they speak for themselves.
Indeed, I have found a great treasure in the box in my mother's basement.