The Paris Review

Crying in the Library

Still from Mary Pickford’s 1911 film Their First Misunderstanding.

I’m a crier by nature, but as I have aged, my reasons for tearing up have become more elusive, even to me. Where once I could predict a crying spell, like spotting an East Texas thunderstorm moving across the landscape, now they arrive fast and sharp, like hail in New England on a March day. More and more frequently, I find myself wiping away tears while asking with plaintive frustration, “Wait, why am I crying right now?”

I had one of those spells this morning while I holding a very old book in the rare books room of the Health Sciences Library at the University

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