Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Joy of Serendipity

Ah, Serendipity!

My nephews loaned me all five books of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I'm only a few chapters into The Lightning Thief, but so far, I'm enjoying it.

However, as it happened, I forgot to take the book to work this morning. Then when lunchtime came, I had nothing to read.

Well, I work in a library, so this wasn't really a problem. I checked the catalog to see if we had The Lightning Thief, and we did. So I went out to the shelves to get it, so I could keep reading where I'd left off.

However, it was missing from the shelf. In its place was a misshelved book. I took that book to reshelve it in its proper place, and there I spotted a stray book that fallen into the space between shelves. It likely would have been lost forever if I had not noticed it through the gap between the properly shelved books.

As I pulled it out the fallen book, intending to reshelve it properly, neither its bland blue cover nor its nondescript title Nine Fairy Tales caught my attention, but the author's name certainly did. Čapek. I thought, Now there's a good Czech name. I wonder if this is a Czech book? And indeed it is. It is written by Karel Čapek and illustrated by Josef Čapek (and translated into English by Dagmar Herrmann, which is good, because I can't read Czech).

Karel and Josef Čapek, you may know, are the authors of R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), the play which gave the word robot to the world.

So I took Nine Fairy Tales to the breakroom to read during my lunch break.

It is wonderful! It is filled with delight and charm, with a fair dose of that excellent Czech dry humor. The first chapter began with a clever old woman and her black cat, a disobedient princess, and an honorable king, then predictably ended with a rich old woman, a happy princess and cat, and a somewhat bemused king. In the second chapter, the cat met the palace dogs. I knew how I expected this chapter to progress, however, I was surprised by the turn of events. The third chapter brought more surprises. I think the predictable first chapter was only to lull the reader into a false sense of security. I am greatly looking forward to the next chapter, because I can't even imagine where this tale will go.

And I would never have even known it existed if not for an unlikely chain of events. It's little coincidences like these, too perfect to be random, that fill the world with mystery.

1 comment:

Jeannette said...

I'm going to get the capek book through ILL. Can't wait to read it!