Saturday, July 09, 2005

The Visitors

I was interrupted from my Saturday afternoon chores by the sound of the dog barking outside. Looking out the window, I saw two young couples standing at the end of my driveway staring at our garage.

My first thought was that the moose rack my husband hung on the garage last evening must be a real traffic stopper. Turns out, the two women in the group had just wanted to stop by and show their partners the house their father had been born in.

Enchanted at the chance to find out more of the history of my house, I eagerly went outside to greet them and chat a bit. They talked about their father, and the summers and Christmases that they had spent visiting here. Their grandfather built the house and the garage, that he used to store boats for other people.

"There's a name in the cement of the corner of the garage", I said, "come, take a look".

"That's our father's name!" We all stared at the perfectly formed letters in awe. The date underneath is worn and fading, but as close as we could tell was 1960. The girls figured that was about the year their father left for university. For unknown reasons, he marked the occasion forever in cement.

After some reminiscing, they bid me farewell, thanking me profusely for letting them look around.

My house is about 80 years old, and has only housed two families in its time - theirs and mine. Except for some painting and minor repairs it has remained relatively unchanged. It may be old, and a little plain, but its solid walls have sheltered love, laughter, sorrow, youth and old age.

It is a family house. A home. * o

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dusty Bookshelves......and more Phantom

A recent trip into the city resulted in the acquisition of the soundtrack CD for The Phantom of The Opera and ignited my "phantom fever" and musings all over again. I took a quick peak at the ultimate Phantom "phans" website, Besides discovering that there are people out there way more obsessed by the Phantom than I am, I also discovered there is an increasing interest in Susan Kay's novel, Phantom.

Seems Kay's novel is now out of print, and hard to find. According to the FAQ's on the Phantom website, "The novel Phantom, by Susan Kay, is very popular amongst fans, but is out of print. Demand for copies has grown so much since the movie of the musical came out that prices on Amazon and eBay have shot up to as much as $70 - $100 just for a paperback."

Makes me kind of glad I have a hardcover copy gathering dust on my bookshelf (and no, at this moment I'm not selling). I loved the novel and it earned a treasured spot on my bookshelf along with other books I just can't part with.

More than haunted by the Phantom, I now find myself haunted by Susan Kay, the writer. All I could find out about her from searching the internet was that she was born in 1952 and wrote two novels, Legacy in 1985 and Phantom in 1990. Legacy was the winner of Britain's Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize and the Betty Trask Prize for a first novel. A good start it would seem. I can't uncover if she wrote anything else after Phantom or what happened to her, or even if she is still alive.

This leaves me wondering why she quit after Phantom? Did the muse leave her? Where is she now (hiding out in some opera house?) What is she doing? Is she aware of all the "phantom fever" surrounding her out of print novel? Somebody please tell me whatever happened to Susan Kay?

Incidentally, the rights to her novel are owned by Amblin - Stephen Spielberg's company. There's rumors that a movie might be in the works. Maybe all the hype over an out of print novel is just good pre-movie publicity. * o