George Packard, retired schoolteacher, was “working” in the library. That is, it was work if you could call snooping around the stacks all morning and working at his “Great American Novel” on the library computers actual work. This writing business had started to consume him. And George was none too happy about it. Time was still an issue for George.
One thing was plain to see at the library. Enormous quantities of paper and ink, produced over thousands and thousands of hours by thousands and thousands of authors – many like himself, with similar sentiments and the best of intentions – had been expended over the years. All this paper, all these trees, this harvest of timber, had been pulped and processed, then splattered with ink, with letters, and finally bound in books. And now all this “wisdom” was being saved, catalogued for the ages. The volume of printed material on the library shelves was staggering. And what good had all these words brought to mankind? Were we better off for it? Did we need yet another book?
Of course this present collection at the Beverly Hills Library, which is where George was sitting, was only one of many collections, the tip of the iceberg. Other libraries across the country and around the world housed similar collections, indeed far greater collections. Internet webs stored millions more stories, accounts, advertisements, silly photos and the like. What good was his book, this Story of the P’s supposed to effect? What was its possible contribution, its benefit to the world?
“Who knows”, thought George Packard. “I’m just going to finish up some of these stories and get them out. So I can be done with them. And so that maybe somebody, somewhere might enjoy them, take refuge in them for a while. Maybe share one of those warm moments. Maybe a smile.”