What is a Shelf of Glory?

By Oliver Johnson

Posted on January 28, 2014 in Competition with tags Shelf Of Glory

‘Actually, I must be going to work,’ I say, waving my digital camera in one hand and my book bag in the other.

‘So what exactly is it you do anyway?’ he asks. Oh no: he’d asked THE question that no book editor can answer. How do you explain what we do? I hold up the camera. ‘Well today my colleagues and I will be taking a picture of our Shelf of Glory.’

He appears baffled. ‘What is A Shelf of Glory?’ he asks.

‘Well, it’s like when you have a hobby, an interest in something and you collect rare and wonderful things that reflect that interest and . . . put them on a shelf . . .’ I conclude lamely.

‘Oh, so what is your interest?’ he asks suspiciously, perhaps conjuring up a rather seamy picture in his mind. All the same, I can see he’s beginning to regret this conversation, perhaps suspecting that the longer it goes on the more likely it will be that I’ll ask him to build a Shelf of Glory right here in the living room in addition to the other dozen or so extra tasks I’ve dreamt up this morning.

‘Well, you know, science fiction… ’

‘Like Slanislaw Lem? So it’s books that you have in the bag?’

‘Ah, no.’ Actually all my SF books are in boxes (because of the builders) so I show him what I have got, the smallest piece in our display, a black shot glass showing a bright orange mushroom cloud and the text ‘Los Alamos, The Atomic City’: the city of the Manhattan project (‘I am become death, the destroyer of worlds’ J. Robert Oppenheimer, paraphrasing Vishnu in the Bhagavad Gita).

Even more baffled he shakes his head and goes back to the paint samples.

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