Imagine this: You’re a four-year-old dachshund and you’ve been trapped inside all day. The adult humans are preoccupied with a new born and a toddler. You’re craving intellectual stimulation, so you decide to sneak out to read – somewhere. But dogs aren’t allowed in the public library and unfortunately you can’t buy books with good looks. Luckily, DIY street libraries have been popping up all over Newcastle. But, as with everything in life, there are choices. So many choices!
Do you head to the street library in Union Street, Tighes Hill? (go to #1) OR Do you head to the street library in Chinchen Street, Islington, for a paperback? (go to #2)
You take a copy of Michael Sala’s The Restorer and head down to the dog park to read. The park is overrun with gigantic beasts and you’re too low to the ground to get caught up in that kind of roughhousing, so you follow the creek around to the mangroves where you can get some peace and quiet. But you spoke too soon. While there, a diamond python mistakes you for a hotdog, not just a hot dog. You escape, but the snake absconds with your book.
Do you give up and head to the beach? (go to #5) OR Do you go looking for another copy at a different street library? (go to #4)
Arriving at the Chinchen Street library you meet another Sausage Dog, Remy. Coincidentally, you and Remy reach for the same book, Keri Glastonbury’s Newcastle Sonnets.
Do you share the book with Remy? (go to #3) OR Do you continue to another street library to find a different book? (go to #4)
You and Remy decide to share the book, so you find a cool spot next to Throsby Creek. Across the water, the less refined canines tear each other limb from limb in a barbaric display of toxic caninity. Meanwhile, you and Remy read sonnets to one another. When the afternoon light starts to wane, you exchange numbers and head your separate ways. When you get home, you realise that you can’t operate a smart phone with paws. You wait at the Chinchen Street library at the same time every week, but your paths never cross again. All you own to remember Remy by, is the single strand of hair that he’d slipped into the book as a bookmark.
After bumping into Wendy; a local kelpie, you discover the whereabouts of another street library in Berner Street, Merewether. You make your way there and take a copy of Ryan O’Neill’s The Weight of a Human Heart. You decide to read the short stories amongst the nearby sunflowers in nearby Townson Oval’s community garden. Life has never been so good.
You take the shady route to the beach and pass the street library underneath the shade of the fig trees on Bruce Street in Cooks Hill. Amongst some classics that you’ve read half dozen times, you find a copy of What Came Between by Patrick Cullen. After flipping through, you discover that it’s set in Cooks Hill. You take it to Susan Gilmore Beach and read while half submerged in a rock pool. Intoxicated by the sea breeze, you dog paddle out to one of the freighters and stow away to the south of France. It is here that you discover the difficulties of writing postcards without opposable digits.
*All the literature mentioned in this story was written by Novocastrians and set in Newcastle.