Tuesday, February 28, 2012

a book I have re-read

okay, okay; yes, it's true. I have re-read some books. In this case, I have to admit that I have a soft spot of Possession by A. S. Byatt. In fact, I am re-reading it right now. 5th or 6th time, already. Why? Well, it isn't the romance aspect to it even though I am a hopeless romantic. It's the element of discovery. The way in which the discoveries present themselves and are dealt with. The level of excitement involved in the chase, the search, the journey. Both internally (within the characters) and externally (within the material being pursued and the relevance being uncovered - revealed)

When I first read this novel I was already well on my own way of finding interesting books with peculiar markers, or postcards, or letters left in them. I not only could visualize these events happening in real life but to some extent, had already experienced them in my own. More often than not, I made no attempt to follow up on the inscriptions or names on my piece of paper, nor call any left-behind telephone number (the ones without area codes were most amusing). Unless the book was signed by a famous person, contained details of that person's life; for example, when I found the small trove of books from Norman H Pritchard's personal library. All signed by him. His copies of text books or books he had read (and left notes in). Often I find threads of research that I don't wish to follow, not that they won't lead anywhere but I don't want to invest any time or energy in the trail myself. But then whom? I am the one with the appropriate copy, with the unique inscription, with the knowledge of a particular providence.

Is that enough? Who would care? Some grad student who is working on their dissertation on a related or perhaps near identical topic; yes, absolutely. What are the chances of that? I don't want to guess. It's not my purpose. Or maybe that is why I keep looking, collecting, and investigating as I do. Maybe it is in part my purpose.

That is certainly why I keep re-reading Possession. There is something in the story that intrigues me. The layers of discovery and the meanings UNcovered. I am hooked. While I enjoy the "bibliomysteries" of John Dunning's Cliff Janeway series, they are primarily detective novels. Possession is something else. It's more akin to Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Club Dumas. The thing surrounding it all is called A BOOK. The whole thing is called "a book". Writing, printing, publishing, binding, selling, re-selling, trading, archiving and/or pulping. The life cycle of a book is the life cycle of human existence as well. Books are human creations. Written by and for humans. They explain our condition and situation on this spinning marble. They comfort and amaze us, they terrify and cause us to burn them - over the endless course of time. But we continue to write and publish, and some of us continue to collect copies of them. That has to mean something. And, of course, it does.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Collapse of Work by Clive Jenkins & Barrie Sherman

Sometimes it is the providence of a book that is the remarkable (or notorious) element of it. In this case, the copy of The Collapse of Work by Clive Jenkins and Barrie Sherman (1979) was inscribed and signed by Mr. Jenkins to a "Congressman Frank Thompson". I wondered about this Congressman, and did a Wiki-search for him and yep, he existed : BAM! Abscam! A crooked Congressman. Well, shucks

That happened in 1980 so this book likely reached him in 1979 when the book was released (by Eyre Methuen, printed in Great Britain in 1979) So, EX-Congressman Thompson served 3 years in Federal prison and then retired to live out his life in Alexandria, VA. Interesting, that's where I found this copy. In the library donation bin.

If this Congressman had not left office in disgrace, perhaps this book would be worth something. As it is, the title of the book is a bit ironic: He was part of the group of Congressmen who had a funny idea of what constituted "work".

Friday, February 10, 2012

maybe my specialty is "the quirk"

maybe when it comes down to it that despite my interest areas what I am really good at is what I call "the quirk" : the bizarre, unusual, weird, definitely out-of-the-main-stream items. Like What it was was Rockabilly which I found at the local library. I sold it to a University collection for $28.95.

I don't remember libraries selling books so OUTRIGHT in their buildings but maybe they always have. At the least, it has evolved from semi-annual book sales at libraries to "on-going" sales. I don't recall seeing the change, but it definitely has occurred. Quirky books like this one are nothing like the norm; they are eye catching for people like me who is out there scouting for "the other".

I recently went to a Thrift store that wrote the price of each book on the spine in China marker. Ugh. I left without purchasing a single thing. No thank you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

frustrated journeys

I go to used bookstores, libraries, thrift shops, etc.

I can not find any Beat Books or Brautigan, or Hunter S Thompson. It's frustrating as hell. I envision these moments of discovery as though they were episodes of some reality TV show about book scouts (ha ha ha) and the reality never matches the fantasy. I do, however, find rare WWII books like Evidence in Camera published in Great Britain in 1958 and signed by the author. And I sell it for $48.00. That fantasy makes for a nice reality.

But I thrive on the what seems to be very elusive stuff. I don't care a spit for most of the books out there (and seemingly neither does anyone else, which is why there are so many copies of them out there)

Someday! SOMEDAY!