Partnership, Friends, and Gifting Books

by Oliver B. Pollak

We visited Omaha in October 2018 and stayed with Dave, my law partner from 1987 to 2016, and his wife Chris at their Waterloo lake house. We’re all retired. Their study with a sofa bed doubles as a guest room. We felt at home; the duvet and book ends came from our house. The shelves held several books Karen and I gave them for birthdays, the holiday season and other opportune occasions. I purchase several copies of irresistible books for friends. I still have two copies of The Pun Also Rises (2011) by John Pollack who did a reading at the Bookworm, and Local Wonders: Seasons in the Bohemian Alps (2002) by Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.

I inscribed A Mirror of the World, Three Thousand Years of Books and Manuscripts (2001), acquired at the Schiller-Nationalmuseum, German Literature Archives in Marbach am Neckar, Germany:

July 19, 2002
Dear Chris & Dave
When books matter
And cooking meet
We don’t cook the books
We eat
Love Oliver

The cover of A Mirror of the World is a 1913 galley with Marcel Proust’s corrections of “A la recherché du temps perdu,” (In Search of Lost Time and Remembrance of Things Past). The editor wrote, “Proust was among those writers who continually changed and improved their text, much to the distress of their printers.”

Silent Hills Speak, A History of Council Bluffs, Iowa (2002), by William E. Ramsey and Betty Dineen Shrier, a 7 pound 7-ounce coffee table book, would be heavily out of place in California. I shifted the burden…

To Chris and Dave
This will weigh down your carpet bag
I am sure it has many uses.
Look to the East
And lets all feast.
Love and best wishes

Karen and Oliver
December 14, 2002

Aprons, A Celebration (2001) by Joyce Cheney, A miniature from a UNO exhibition of Aprons.

To Chris 3/30/03.
Here’s to our aprons.

Karen & Oliver

A Year at the Sorbonne, A Proustian Life (2002) by Oliver B. Pollak.

To Chris and Dave Inscriptions, epigrams, epitaphs, epithets, and epitomes. You grow in our estimation daily.

Love, Karen & Oliver 4/7/06

Jim Harrison, The English Major (2008)

To Dave
The curious road ahead
Navigating between
Valentines and rattlesnakes
Seasons greetings
as 2008 turns into 2009


Dave gave a copy to his daughter-in-law Bethany, an Omaha English teacher.

The New World Guide to Beer (1988) by Michael Jackson, another coffee table book.

Dear Chris
Dare we say
Happy Beerthday
All our love

Karen & Oliver
Sept 1, 2016

Moving to California meant downsizing, shedding books. Our retirement home would not house all our books. Storage was out of the question. I sold to Jackson Street Booksellers, students and Lincoln’s Lee Booksellers. We invited Chris and Dave to browse our shelves. Chris picked The Grapes of Wrath. I wrote, September 10, 2016

Dear Chris,
I am so glad you picked this book voluntarily. The book and movie merge in my mind’s memory. It is moving. Class warfare. Climate change. People helping each other. Noble sentiment and deeds. I must have read it in the 1960s. It goes to a new loving home.

Oliver & Karen

My Budapest Diary, In Search of the Motherbook (1997) by Susan Rubin Suleiman and Dinner with Churchill (2011) by Cita Stelzer also graced Dave and Chris’s shelves.

Dave favored me with numerous books, especially at Hanukkah. In December 1995 he supported my interest in George Orwell with the Brothel Boy and Other Parables of the Law (1992) by Morris Norval. It took me until 2015 to read this thoughtful book. I went from my Orwell shelf with gratitude back to Dave in 2016. The gift of Various Positions (1996) a biography of Leonard Cohen, by Ira Bruce Nadel, dramatically expanded my musical tastes. It sits on a shelf in Richmond. Karen and I enjoyed Cohen concerts in Toronto and much closer, in Oakland.


Dave and Chris love camping, first with a trailer and now an RV. They visit national parks including Presidential Libraries. Books need bookmarks, papyrus, leather, or post-its notes. Dave and Chris bought this bookmark at the William J. Clinton Library and Museum in Little Rock.

Dave recalls we occasionally purchased books together, such as On Bullshit by Harry G. Frankfurt (Princeton University Press, 2005, 68 pages, $9.95), which has been translated into at least sixteen languages.

Giving books at joyous junctures reveals regard for one another, friendship and shared interests; food and drink permeate the titles and inscriptions. These association copies may be on the used book market sooner than mid-century.

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