I spent last night playing Strange Bedfellows with a friend.
It’s not as bad as it sounds.
Strange Bedfellows is a parlor game inventes – as far as I know – by British novelist M. John Harrison.
It’s quite simple, but can be fun.
The game is played indoors, wherever there are some book shelves.
The idea is to look at the books on the shelf, and pick a pair of books that sit side by side.
And now imagine: it is a dark and stormy night, and as the fury of the elements thrashes the countryside, in a small inn, two travellers are forced to share the same bed for the night.
The two authors of the two books are the two travellers.
The night is cold.
What do they talk about, laying there side by side?
Do they just talk?
It’s funny, slightly risqué, the sort of game book-lovers like to play.
Can even be played solitaire – and used as a writing prompt.
If played in two can lead to some spicy situations.
If played in a group, normally degenerates in a lot of sillyness, but fun.
Picking the fiction shelf is usually better than picking the non-fiction shelf.
The game began, last night, because my friend had been told that, on her Goodreads (virtual) bookshelf, Agatha Christie sitting side-by-side with Virginia Woolf was an unusual sight.
But then, what of Harlan Ellison and Arthur Conan Doyle, currently sticking together on my shelf?
What about Roald Dahl and the Dalai Lama sharing a bed in that lonesome hotel?
What would Louise Brooks say to H.P. Lovecraft, and what would he respond?
A messy book collection is sure to grant hours of delight, starting conversations and some quiet fun.