My second job was at the local publisher Allen Press, cleaning the bathrooms. My favorite part of this job was the weekends, when they were closed and I could steal books from the stock shelves and mailroom in the basement. In that basement I first read Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell, with his illustrations. I swiped it thinking it was a religious tract, similar to the Chick Publications pamphlets I collected. Reading the Proverbs of Hell in that dim, solitary basement, with the pigeons in the ventilation shafts piping like siphons of Hades, terrified me more than watching the world end on The Day After in grade school, and for far different reasons. The seeds of doubt—in my goodness, in my salvation, in the benevolence of the world—were sown in the underworld of Allen Press.

Just added to The List and the Story: Out of the Nineties

AuthorJohn Proctor