At the Back Fence Issue#104

 (October 15, 2000)



Book of a Lifetime:
Last month, via an interlibrary loan, I was able to read a book I’d not read in more than 25 years. Originally read in junior high school, I couldn’t remember the name of Emmy Keeps a Promise by Madye Lee Chastain. After trying for years to identify the book, AAR Editor Nora Armstrong and AAR Reviewer Jane Jorgenson, who are also librarians, said they would post my synopsis on Fiction-L, a discussion loop for librarians. Imagine my glee when, after more than 25 years of fruitless effort, within a day of posting my synopsis, I had the answer!

Now that I had the name, how would I find the book? Neither of the two librarians who provided the title had copies themselves. And since the book was published in 1956 by a now-defunct publisher, I couldn’t ask them to borrow an archived copy as I’d occasionally done in the past for my work at the site. A check of UBS’s both online and off only revealed two copies. One was a paperback version for $25; it was apparently sold days before I wanted to buy it. Another copy was a hardcover, probably the same version I’d read in the Portola Junior High School library, on sale for nearly $200.00.

I next tried the online auction services, only to discover a copy had been sold the day before for three dollars by a woman whose cousin had been looking for it for 20 years! In my desperation, I even called a librarian at my old school, 1,500 miles away, to see if they still had a copy of it, to no avail. My husband, who had taken to teasing me about the book, calling it “Emmy Eats a Pickle,” was no help at all, but he did suggest something I’d only heard of before but had never tried – the interlibrary