To Rayden

This book is an absolute treasure. I bought it for the price of a lollipop at a school flea market when I was eight, along with as many books as I could fit into my bag. Most of those books (if not all) were obscure novels written and published decades before I was born and donated to the school by people that didn't care about them anymore. I gladly took as many as I could, judging them by, well, their cover. Being an eight-year-old without a wealth of knowledge in literature, I just picked the ones that had the nicest covers (like this one, although I wanted it specifically for the inscription on the title page) or coolest names (like Dead Pigs at Hungry Farm *).

This strategy failed and worked an equal number of times, with some books turning out to be bores (although I did read most of them before I hit 15) and others, like this one and Dead Pigs at Hungry Farm, finding a special place in my heart.

Nowadays, the book is in even worse shape. When you open it, clumps of pages fall out, and it's already missing 50 pages or so around the middle. I don't care, though, reading it is a joy and more importantly, it served as one of my greatest inspirations. I owe a lot to it, and that innocent Saturday, when I found my old 1st-grade teacher sitting behind a huge stack of old books, offering to sell them to me for practically nothing.

* Anyone that clicked that link must be rubbing their eyes. I'm disheartened that I lost the book in my move to England in 2004, because the only differences between that version and mine are the sleeve and condition (mine looked like it was squashed in a musty box for years). Not only does it turn out to have some very clear value (not that I'd contemplate selling it), but I also wish I could read it again. Hopefully, whoever picked it up didn't throw it in the trash.

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