Where to start? Having arrived home from Shanghai, sleep is elusive and the need to work through a painful moment at the 2018 Advance in Hong Kong is preying on my mind. It needs to be exercised by writing.
The anguish began on the second day as I sat with someone I did not yet know. All was well until A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations  got a mention and she opened her bag and seductively withdrew a beautiful new copy of the book. Immediately I noticed it was different from mine. Hers was blue; mine was red – my heart dropped. Then the full truth was laid bare, she had the 9th edition while mine was the 8th. At that moment I would be forever on the back foot; behind the eight ball; a student living in the past. My citations and bibliographic referencing would always be in the shadows. Had Loren set me up? Was there some disingenuity when the book list was sent out to the New Zealander? What to do? How would I recover from the shame of being an academic ‘has been’? Even Mario sensed it, claiming he could only trust 20 per cent of anything I said. He didn’t know the truth: I’m only an unreliable 8th edition student. It explained everything. But then my inner grey-faced pragmatist screamed at me, ‘just buy the latest version, you idiot’. But it didn’t understand; you can’t just buy a new self. You can’t just erase the past as if it didn’t happen. My old 8th edition persona had been fixed. I should have seen Mary Pandiani.
In the silent suffering, I needed an exegesis for the feelings that kept exploding, but none was forthcoming. Even then, however, understanding the ‘why’ would still require a subtle but appropriate hermeneutic to get through the rest of the programme. But after nine days in Hong Kong, there was no obvious path ahead.
Then came Shanghai and the Amanyangyun resort. In that quiet (and frighteningly expensive) luxury resort I found answers. I was thrust back to the 7th century Tang Dynasty and the power of numbers. There the epiphany unfolded, everything became clear – 9 was the emperor’s number. It was the highest of all single digits – 9 is arrival, and I was an 8. I was a ‘nearly made it’. I was an ‘almost,’ but not an ‘entirety’. The full force of my inferiority became apparent, and I finally understood. I had my exegesis. But what now?
I thought about the words of Jesus, ‘The first shall be last, and the last first’, but that was no comfort, I wasn’t either of them – so close but so far. Then I thought about the poor saps stuck with the 7th edition, but they were better off being in the ‘middle of the pack’; unseen, ordinary folk whose footnotes won’t ever be read by Jason.
Hope came, however, in a sleepless moment at 50,000 feet over the Pacific ocean while watching the Matrix. Morpheus said to Neo, ‘you must go back to the source’, and that’s when it hit me, yes, I need to get the 9th edition, but, to be complete, I also need the 1st edition – the Alpha and the Omega. So while waiting in Auckland, I searche Ebay and found a genuine second-hand 1st ed of Turabian for $1.99, which I have ordered. Now I know where my own edition comes from – a sense of who I am in the academic order of things, a kind of bibliographgeschicte.
So, as a review, never has a book had such a torturous emotional impact on my academic life. So, if you do choose to purchase a copy, get the 9th Edition and save yourself the anguish. With any luck, the publishers will cease torturing budding academics, and if they do continue the practice, hopefully, my account will inspire the need to, ‘check before you buy’.
 Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations : Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. 8th ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013.
(Note the inferior 8th edition formatting)