SIX MAGIC BOOKS
from the LIBRARY of
L. E. GROTHAUS
VISIT THE BOOKS IN PERSON THIS APRIL! MORE INFO HERE.
Displayed before you are six books from the library of L. E. Grothaus. Last October, I moved into a creaking house, which I later learned, had once been hers. Mirrors and boxes crowded her basement – while on the second floor, I found a room filled from floor to ceiling with rows of books. In the center, she had left this note:
While many of my books contain tales that transport readers to other worlds, six hold objects of immense power that allow the reader to reconstruct the very world in which they live. You must share these books. They ask that we reimagine together. One reader was never enough for them. – L. E. Grothaus
The eerie similarities between our names did not escape my notice. But even eerier – when I opened each of the six books, stories flowed through my mind: the first time I planted violets, a moth batting up against the light, a woman on the news speaking about the bones of mastodons. My sleep that night was full of dreams. The next morning, the books had shifted: a glove in one uncurled a finger. The cards in another shuffled their order.
As I approached librarians about Grothaus’s request, they wisely asked that the books be placed behind glass, so only a fraction of their magic might pass through. We have a journal here, where the books sometimes inscribe a question or a thought – a way of communicating with you. You are invited to write back.
If, like me, you find a story as you look at them, save it. It is a gift from the books. It is yours and yours alone. Keep it for as long as it serves you. The books have taught me that there is also a time at which we must let our stories go.
Finally, I must share the strangest part of my tale. L. E. Grothaus also wrote about a seventh magical book. She called it the wandering sibling of the six. It changes shape and refuses to reside on any one shelf. She said that it finds those most in need of it, people searching for a new story or haunted by an old one. If you see it in the wide world, know that you are not alone.
Thank you to the Maryland State Art Council for supporting this show with a Creativity Grant. Thank you also to Art Enables, particularly Marissa Long, whose support of my work in Green Archives allowed the first three of these books to come into being.