It is a fair question. The obvious one, I mean. Here it is January 12 and my annual interview with the new Year has not appeared yet. Why? What happened? Until this morning I had no idea myself. My interview was scheduled for New Year’s Eve, as usual, when I received this terse note.
It was with some trepidation that I approached the Glade of Years for my rescheduled interview. Here is what I discovered.
Kenny: Greetings, Year 2017?
Year 2017: Happy New Year to you, Kenny.
Kenny: Thank you, but apart from our interview having been rescheduled I can’t help noting that you are not the same Year that I saw in the press kit photo.
Year 2017: No indeed. I am not. I suppose you would like to understand these changed circumstances.
Kenny: That would be yes.
Year 2017: The original Year 2017 ran off and has not been found. She abdicated by flight, you might say.
Kenny: I see. And who are you?
Year 2017: I am the Replacement Year. It is my duty to take upon any Year left absent.
Kenny: So this has happened before? When was the last time?
Year 2017: 1353.
Kenny: So you were once The Year 1353?
Year 2017: Right in one.
Year 2017: Don’t go there. Let the Black Plague lie. And don’t ask for any reassurance about the upcoming year either. Do you really want to read the last page of the book first?
Kenny: Well okay, but is there anything you can tell me about the Year 2017 at least in terms of books?
Year 2017: Yes indeed. Replacement years are years of re-reading, of returning to the same place as a different person in time.
Kenny: Aha. But how does one decide what to re-read?
Year 2017: Close your eyes and count to 17 and then think of the future and say aloud the first quote from a book that comes into your mind.
Kenny: All right…………….. “It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.”
Year 2017: Very good! Read the book from whence that came.
Kenny: I see. Will do! What of books published in 2017, though? Have you had a chance to consider that?
Year 2017: I have indeed, though only the first quarter. That is part of a replacement Year’s duty.
Kenny: All right, and so which books should we particularly be on the lookout for.
Year 2017: Two books of national interest which also have regional interest for you, Kenny, are Christina Baker Kline’s A Piece of the World and Michael Finkel’s The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit.
Kenny: Ah yes, the book about The North Pond Hermit. That is right in my backyard. We think the hermit stole several pairs of our snowshoes! That is a terrific read as is A Piece of the World, what an interesting portrait of Andrew Wyeth and the rugged life on the Maine Coast as seen through Christina Olson’s eyes. Great choices.
Year 2017: Thank you. Speaking more generally you would be very unwise not to pay particular attention to a short story collection by Haruki Murakami.
Kenny: I will never take that shame upon me. Men Without Women will be treated with due diligence. And what of kids’ books?
Year 2017: Ah, that is a rich area. Two superb books have already been released, Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff and Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall. Two middle grade novels to watch for are Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk and Otherwise Known as Possum by Maria Laso. Wonderful stories. And for Young Adult, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give is both stellar and timely.
Kenny: That’s great to hear. I just loved Otherwise Known as Possum and The Hate U Give. I can’t wait to have a go at Beyond the Bright Sea. Now, are there any picture books to watch out for?
Year 2017: Stephanie Graegin’s Little Fox in the Forest is a magnificent wordless book. A truly engaging story which young readers will delight in creating the narrative for in their minds. I also commend The Great Henry Hopendower by Justin Roberts, illustrated by Deborah Hocking to your attention. It captures the very real magic of reminiscence as seen in the shared love of magic tricks between a boy and his now deceased grandfather.
Kenny: Thanks so much! I do hope this is a more pleasant term than your last one.
Year 2017: Thanks for the good wishes, Kenny. It was my pleasure.