A Note on the Paper: An Encomium to Larry

June 1, 2012 | 1 3 min read

This book is printed on 60# white paper with an eggshell finish, processed by Walker Paper, one of Pennsylvania’s six largest paper processors. The human touch of proprietor Norman Walker can be seen throughout the pages, but particularly in the tiny nick on the upper-right hand corner of page 33, where Norman inadvertently gave himself a paper cut.

The paper was pulped from a field of Norway Spruce grown in Mifflinville, Penn. The tree that became this particular book was a 37-year-old spruce, tall and sturdy, by the name of Larry. Larry was a happy tree, home to children who enjoyed swinging from a tire attached via rope to one of his lower branches. The marks from the rope can be witnessed in the upper left-hand corners of pages 134 and 136.

The paper is uncoated and completely acid-free, except for that one time when Larry’s friends pressured him into trying some, at a trance club in Harrisburg. Larry experienced hallucinations regarding his Laurel Oak neighbor, Bill, and the way Bill’s branches seemed to sway gracefully in the wind, calling Larry closer and closer before suddenly holding still, and pushing Larry away. Larry’s feelings about Bill can perhaps best be noticed in the barely-visible markings along the edge of page 67, like a heart that’s been scratched by an errant twig.

The paper that makes up this book was originally intended for use in a well-crafted novel brilliantly depicting the ennui of life as a suburban housewife, as per Larry’s final wishes, but due to a mix-up in processing, Larry has instead been employed to carry the words of this far more pedestrian book of practice questions for the Illinois driver’s license exam, a book which Larry not only would never have read, but which he would have found particularly offensive, given that his uncle was injured in a car accident caused by a driver with Illinois plates. Larry spent much of his adolescence crusading against erratic driving and the dangers it posed to his community, and in fact was honored by the local Arbor Association for his service.

You may notice a slight smudge on page 206 of this book. The smudge was caused by one final attempt by Larry to escape his fate, a last gasp where he summoned all of the life force that remained inside the processed substance of his roots and tried to slide his way off the press before the inking was complete. Despite a plan he had been perfecting ever since his mother was taken to provide a new run of Scrabble dictionaries, Larry’s struggle failed to make much of an impact beyond that one slight smudge, which future Illinois drivers may notice as they review the regulations concerning the appropriate distance to leave between a parked car and the curb.

Services for Larry were held at the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies, where many of Larry’s descendants currently reside. There was a heartfelt tribute in song offered by Simon, a winged family friend who makes his home in a nest he built in the branches of Larry’s cousin Deborah. Deborah was shaking throughout the ceremony, as were many of the attendees, due to a slight breeze blowing through the area. Larry’s life was best illustrated by a single leaf, falling to the ground from a branch high in the sky. Or perhaps his life was not illustrated by such an image at all, since the leaves of a spruce tree are not seasonally shed.

Larry was allergic to mushrooms, so try to respect his life by keeping this book away from them. His loved ones would appreciate the effort.

Donations can be sent in Larry’s name to your local chapter of SADD (Spruce Against Drunk Driving). In addition, you are encouraged to read a well-crafted novel about the ennui of suburban housewives, in Larry’s honor. Good luck on your Illinois driver’s license exam.

Image Credit: Flickr/Horia Varlan

is a freelance writer and the author of Anonymous Lawyer, a comedic novel about corporate law. He has written humor pieces for publications including McSweeney's, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic. Read more at http://jeremyblachman.com or follow him @jeremyblachman.

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