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As I was emptying my bag from a recent trip to the library, my boyfriend Tim looked at the stack which included Arabat and its sequel. “Who’s Clive Barker?” he asked, “And why do you have all his books?” I smiled a shy smile. I know I’m doing it again.

I develop crushes on authors the same way I used to crush on boys in junior high (OK, and in high school and a little bit in college. . .). Here’s a snippet from my diary: I love Chad. I love Bryan. I love Kevin. I love Kevin and Bryan and Chad. *Sigh* Riveting prose, I know. Apparently I never grew out of this phase, I merely redirected it.

I meet them in all kinds of places. Sometimes I stumble upon them unexpectedly in a bookstore — like Mark Haddon. Or maybe he’s that charming popular guy you can’t resist– like Dave Eggers. Or maybe he’s someone my friends have been trying to introduce me to for years — like Neil Gaiman. I find all of them enchanting, charismatic and undeniable.

It always happens the same way. Giddiness sets in after the first few moments together. I sit in book readings with rapt adoration, hands cupped under my chin and a glazed look in my eye. I’m become a literary groupie. I stalk bookstores and websites, trying to find their newest and greatest titles. In other words, I pursue them with the single-mindedness of an obsessed lover.

There are of course the occasional disappointments. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I was in love, or so I thought. Summerland didn’t do it for me, so I broke up with Chabon. And don’t get me started on Jonathan Safran Froer. It still hurts. We had so much promise.

As for Clive, *sigh* I found Arabat on one of my desultory commuter days. I didn’t like the book I was reading. I didn’t want to be commuting on that day. I remember the weather being crappy, even if it actually wasn’t. It was a day in which nothing was good enough. I was frustrated and cranky. I wanted something entirely new. I wandered the shelves of the train station book store, thinking I had seen it all, but hoping something would jump out at me. Clive’s artwork on the cover did. I didn’t care what this book was about, I had to read it. Within three pages I was hooked. The very next day I was in the library with my stack of Barker books.

I have high hopes for Clive and me. I loved Arabat and I’m halfway through its fantastic sequel. I’m moving on to The Thief of Always next. I know that it doesn’t always work out. At some point I lose interest, or feel betrayed by a change in artistic direction. Sometimes is just fizzles out in a natural progression of such things. Thankfully, more often than not, we settle into a comfortable, intimate friendship — a relationship that allows me to patiently wait for the next title and see other books while I wait.

But for the short time, my author love is pure and wonderful. I enjoy it while it lasts.

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