The Christmas literary commonplace

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Todd R. Nelson is a retired educator. His book of Maine essays, “Cold Spell,” was published in October by Down East Books.

For Christmas one year, my brother created “a literary commonplace.” “Initial entries compiled by Derek Nelson; subsequent entries by Todd Nelson,” as his cover says. He was inaugurating a collecting practice that has endured to the present.

“Commonplace” was not a new concept, since we Nelsons always liked an excuse to type. Both English majors inhabited the land before word processing, to us typing meant self-publishing and making soothing word noise. Cloud storage does not yet exist, but I embrace the metaphor — and quality paper and the comforting industrial pressure of type on inky ribbon.