"When we were out in Manchester, Michigan in that book store we visited, I saw a book I wanted but didn’t get it. It was $24.95 and Mother said she would get it for Christmas for me. A couple of weeks ago we tried to get it ordered through the Frigate Book Shop [now gone] in Chestnut Hill. They say it is out of print, though Mother saw it reviewed just about six months ago. It was only published in 1978, I believe. It is called The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel and Giannin Guadalupi (MacMillan). If you can find it or get over to Manchester, let me know. I would like to get it."
(from a letter written to me by my father dated March 9, 1982)
A couple of things occurred to me while transcribing this letter from my father, a project that is currently occupying my time. One is that we searched for that book forever and didn't find it.
I made the trip to Manchester to the little bookstore, which no longer had the book. I searched for it everywhere I traveled as I'm sure my father did.
Of course, the book was republished and packaged and updated over the years and I have a copy of it sitting next to me. The Internet has made those searches necessary for only the most obscure items and even then a clever researcher can find clues and bread crumbs leading to discovery.
My guess is that my father was enchanted with the book because it included all the imaginary and mystical places in the books of his childhood from Xanadu to Oz. Leafing through my paperback copy (was it Daddy's or did I buy it?) I am reminded of worlds created by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein among many others.