When I worked at the library I was queen of finding obscure books. Everyone else was reading Grisham and Karon and whatever was on the NY Times best seller list (deservedly so), but not me, for some reason I would locate old Victorian catalogues, or journals from the 1700's; books on medical tools of the 1800's--with etchings. The most obscure, frighteningly strange book I found was one on spontaneous combustion, pictures included.

But my favorite find was the thick manuel of Kiki de Paris. I joked around about my past life a few posts ago, but I'm not joking when I say I had an instant connection with Alice Prin when I first saw her picture in this book. Truly, if I could choose a past life, it would have been hers. She was a muse to the painters around the Montparnasse early 1900's France; Man Ray was her lover in the 1920's, and he created countess portraits during their time together. Mind you, it's not the lover part that interests me (she was an artist in her own right). What interests me is she was her own woman, in the right place at one of the most explosive moments of modern art. She was beautiful in an unconventional way; she was brash, stylish, bold and feminine. The line of her face, the way she cut her hair, the way she posed, the look in her eye, all tell of a timeless ingenuity.

So, I checked that book out, and returned it. And check it out again, over and over, year after year. It led me to another great find, Lartigues Les Femmes Aux Cigarettes. Ah, how I loved that book. It made me laugh, but it was also so fricking brilliant. I wish I still worked at the library so I could go on a treasure hunt with the interlibrary loan.


  1. Finding treasures is so exciting and can lead us to find more.

  2. The 'spontanious combustion' pics used to fascinate me, so I looked into them. Turns out that many old women (mainly women but sometimes men) having set their jumpers alight - would try to make their way to the bathroom for water, but not quite make it. The fat/muscle ratio in their bodies meant that they smoldered slowly after death, sometimes leaving only their legs behind and the rest down a neat hole in the floor boards, hence the 'mystery'.

    I much prefer the smoking French women.

  3. A new definition of 'Hot Pants' for sure.

  4. "You know, Dozens of people spontaneously combust each year, it's just not widely reported" - David St Huggins


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